Procrastination is part of human nature. Everyone tries to delay activities and obligations that they find unpleasant. Estate planning is not much fun because you have to think about your own death and also how your family will behave when fighting over your property.
You could use anything from big financial or family plans in the upcoming years to overtime demands at work to justify continuing to delay the creation of a last will and other important estate planning documents.
Some people die before they ever get around to putting their wishes in writing. Others experience a wake-up call that forces them to take action. What are some of the common reasons that people finally create an estate plan?
1. They become concerned about their children’s futures
Perhaps it is the discovery that the family will soon welcome another member that motivates a person to estate plan. Other times, those who have older children may feel a strong impulse when confronted with the possibility of dying and leaving their child alone, such as a narrowly avoided car crash.
Whether in anticipation of the arrival of a new life or the sudden realization of the uncertainty of your own, planning to name a guardian for your children and provide financial resources for their future stability is a common reason to create a written estate plan.
2. They worry about state benefits, creditor activity or estate taxes
Estate planning often overlaps substantially with retirement planning. The closer someone gets to their golden years, the more concerned they may be about financial stability later in life. They may also start to think about the implication of their own medical needs or death.
Estate planning, including the creation of a trust, can be important for those who have enough assets to worry about estate taxation. Alternately, those with a firmly middle-class life who want their spouse to remain comfortable after their death may need to consider how creditor collections or even Medicaid recovery could affect their family.
Finally, those who need to qualify for state benefits may also start estate planning as they near retirement age as a means of qualifying for certain benefits like Medicaid in the future.
3. They develop an idea for a meaningful legacy
You don’t need to have children or even a dependent spouse to benefit from an estate plan. Some people want to create a scholarship fund or bequeath personal property to a local park.
Whether you hope to leave financial resources for a child with special needs or make a massive donation to your favorite charitable organization, having plans for your property after you die that differ from the state practice of distributing it to your closest family members can be a strong incentive to create an estate plan.
If you have assets, family members or a legacy that you want to protect, estate planning helps you maintain control over your life and your resources. The control and peace of mind it offers may be the single strongest reason people decide to put their wishes in writing.