Lessons Learned

in Estate Planning

"The greatest amount of wasted time is time not getting started." -Dawson Trotman

In his article "Uncomfortable Lessons I Have Learned in Estate Planning", Jim Moran shares a relatable story of caring for his ailing father, and then trying to manage the Estate, without the benefit of having Estate Planning documents in place. Mr. Moran discusses, among other items, the importance of using tools like life insurance and transfer-on-death products as ways to transfer cash and/or property to loved ones while avoiding the long and potentially expensive probate process. He also mentions the importance of having a Last Will & Testament in place.

A passion for planning for future needs or events rarely comes natural to us. There is a specific word within the English language used to describe our tendency to delay or even avoid making an effort to accomplish a task: procrastinate. Literally "to put off to tomorrow", this word adequately and unfortunately describes our collective unwillingness to address the very real need to put our affairs in order. Many excuses exist to delay the preparation of valuable documents such as Powers of Attorney for financial and healthcare matters and a Last Will & Testament. Here are some of those excuses:

  • I can't afford it; lawyers are too expensive

  • I don't need it; my family will just deal with it after I'm gone

  • I don't have time right now; I'll get to it eventually

Mr. Moran sums up his experience by saying "I have seen firsthand the pain, stress, and suffering this lack of planning can exact." Notice he speaks not from the perspective of the individual who should have planned (his father) but that of a person left behind to deal with the fallout of the failure to plan. Put another way, the negative impact is not always felt by the individual, but instead is suffered by children, friends, and others who must argue with hospitals and doctors over healthcare decisions; are unable to access necessary funds to pay bills; and cannot easily navigate a probate estate in order to transfer assets smoothly. If there is one reason alone to put an estate plan in place now, let it be to make things easier on your family. Simple estate planning documents can be prepared at a reasonable cost. And an estate plan can be discussed and finalized in less time than it takes to play a round of golf. Don't delay any longer, and make it your priority this month to put your own plan in place.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb

-Robert L. Myers. January 4, 2022