Our estate lawyer has witnessed firsthand the impact that forgoing estate planning can have on families when someone becomes incapacitated or dies. Unfortunately, despite how crucial estate planning is, it is a process that is often overlooked, and avoiding the process may happen due to several reasons. Avoiding estate planning is primarily due to misconceptions about what it entails, psychological factors, procrastination, and a lack of awareness about its importance. W.B. Moore Law will share with those considering an estate plan the key reasons people often avoid estate planning:
Estate Planning is Reserved for the Wealthy
There are several misunderstandings and misconceptions surrounding the estate planning process. Many believe estate planning is only for the affluent with large estates to leave behind. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Estate planning encompasses everyone, irrespective of their financial standing because it entails designating who will receive your assets, regardless of their size, upon your demise. It also includes planning for incapacitation and guardianship decisions. This misconception often deters individuals from engaging in estate planning.
Thinking About Death is Challenging
Thinking about death is incredibly difficult for most people. Some may even have a psychological aversion to thinking about death. Estate planning inevitably brings thoughts of mortality to the forefront, something many individuals are uncomfortable with. Discussions about death, incapacity, and end-of-life decisions can be uncomfortable and emotionally distressing. This emotional discomfort often leads to avoidance and procrastination.
Putting Off the Process
Procrastination plays a significant role. It is human nature to postpone tasks that do not have immediate consequences, and estate planning falls into that category. Since the effects of not having an estate plan are not immediately evident, it’s easy to put it off in favor of more pressing daily matters.
Estate Planning is Complex
The complexity of estate planning is another deterrent. It involves legal terminologies, tax implications, and the daunting task of cataloging your assets. Many people feel overwhelmed and under-equipped to handle such complexities. Also, dealing with lawyers and paying legal fees may discourage people from starting the process.
Failing to Understand the Importance
A lack of awareness about the importance and benefits of estate planning also contributes to its avoidance. Some individuals may not fully comprehend the consequences of not having a well-documented estate plan. The repercussions extend beyond asset distribution and may lead to family disputes, expensive court costs, and unnecessary taxes, not to mention the potential for the government to make decisions about asset distribution.
Difficulty Discussing Finances
Culturally, in some societies, discussing personal finances is considered taboo and inappropriate for family conversation, leading many to avoid the estate planning process entirely. Thus, cultural and societal norms play a part in hindering individuals from making essential estate planning decisions.
The avoidance of estate planning results from a confluence of factors, including misconceptions, psychological barriers, procrastination, the complexity of the process, and a lack of awareness about its benefits. Estate planning is about distributing assets after death and ensuring peace of mind and security during one’s lifetime. It provides an opportunity to plan for the unexpected, reduce family conflict, and secure the future for loved ones. Raising awareness, debunking misconceptions, and offering accessible resources can help more people understand and engage in this crucial process.