What could Halloween and the process of doing a will and trust and other essential documents have in common? Both can be scary!
I’ll confess, I hate the idea of going to a haunted house or spooky corn maze. While a teenager growing up in Las Vegas, I’d act brave with my friends and later have to sleep with the lights on.
However, having been an estate planning attorney for over 20 years, I’m comfortable planning for one’s demise. I’ve helped thousands of clients take this step. I’ve figuratively held their hand as they contemplated their mortality.
I promise that I do understand how scary the process can be for some. I know many clients have avoided doing planning because of fear. However, like exiting a spook alley, when it’s over and the estate planning documents are signed, most say, “If I knew it was this easy, I would have done it earlier.”
Why do people fear estate planning? I will share three reasons.
First, as stated above, many don’t want to think about their death. They will procrastinate and ignore something that is essential. Estate planning, by definition, is the easiest thing there is to procrastinate. This is true because as long as you do it before you take your last breath, you did it in time. Most of us, just don’t know when we will be taking that last breath.
Second, many are scared that their family situation is such a mess that they don’t have the answers to fix it. I’ve had dozens of clients say something like, “I bet you’ve never seen a situation this messed up.” I can usually smile and say, “Oh, I’ve seen worse.” Addressing what you may consider a “mess” with good estate planning, is always better than ignoring it until you die.
The last reason many are scared of estate planning relates to the many decisions that have to be made. If you have minor children it can be very scary to decide who will raise the children if something happens to you. Decisions relating to terminal medical treatment can also be hard for many to make.
In conclusion, I’ve come to like Halloween. Once my wife and I had children and I realized they were the reason for the Pumpkin Season, I came to appreciate the holiday. Estate planning is the same. You don’t do it for you. You do it for those that you leave behind.
Jeffery J. McKenna is a local attorney serving clients in Nevada, Arizona and Utah. He is a shareholder at the law firm of Barney McKenna & Olmstead, PC, with offices in Mesquite and St. George. If you have questions you would like addressed in these articles, you can contact him at (435) 628-1711 or email@example.com.