As an estate planning lawyer, I protect clients by preparing documents such as Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills. These documents play a vital role in protecting individuals and their families in the event of illness, injury, incapacity, and death. Simply stated, having these estate documents in place is a “great thing” and every adult should have them. When I explain to clients what these basic estate documents accomplish, they rarely disagree with the importance of having these in place.
Nonetheless, almost every week I have families come to me where some catastrophic event has occurred (injury, illness or death) and their loved one doesn’t have any estate documents in place. By example, I recently had a woman contact me about preparing estate documents for her brother who was in the hospital as a result of an accident. At a minimum, he needed a Healthcare Power of Attorney, a Living Will, a Durable Power of Attorney, and a Last Will and Testament. He had none of these. I told her I’d be happy to help but I first needed to know if her brother could sign these documents. Her reply, “Oh no, he’s in a coma.” In that case, preparing his estate documents was too late.
So why do people fail to put an estate plan in place? Most people have good intentions but fail to act on them. After years of experience, I’ve concluded that the main reason people fail to act is not cost, or time, or even lack of knowledge. It is “Procrastination.”
The American Heritage Dictionary defines procrastination as “To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness.” Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines procrastination as “To put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.”
Procrastination is a form of delay. In some cases, delay isn’t a bad thing. Not all is delay procrastination. For example, if you want to go to the beach and there’s a lightning storm there, delay is a smart thing. If you plan to go jog five miles, it might be a good idea to delay eating that pizza in your oven. These delays are smart and make sense.
However, when it comes to estate planning, delay is never good. If an illness or injury occurs, not having a Power of Attorney for Healthcare can mean unnecessary risk and delay in treatment for the afflicted person. If incapacity occurs (like having a stroke), not having a Durable Power of Attorney (for financial and business matters) could mean that important actions cannot be taken. Not having a Declaration of Living Will can mean unnecessary suffering in the event of a terminal illness. If a person dies without a Will, their desires for who will receive their estate and who will be in charge of their final affairs, will likely not occur. If the person does not have a Living Trust (also called a Revocable Trust), their estate may end up in a costly and time-consuming probate.
The cure for procrastination is to take action. Once you start a task, you’re much more likely to keep working until you finish. So get started. Don’t be a “Pro” at procrastination! Call and make an appointment with the experienced estate planning team at Lins Law Group, P.A.