Most Of Us Can Agree That Having An Estate Plan Is A Good Thing, Yet Our Feelings Often Get In The Way Of Creating One. Here’s How To Rethink This Essential Task.
What if we told you there was a way to honor all the hard work you’ve done in life, establish a legacy and make your family happy — long after you’ve passed? In fact, you can achieve all of these goals via estate planning, and it’s easier to do than you think. Interestingly, while 7 in 10 people say it’s a personal goal to hand down wealth to family, only 53% have an estate plan, according to a survey conducted in the U.S. by Wealth in partnership with WALR from Dec. 16, 2021, to Jan. 1, 2022. So, what’s stopping the other 47%? Well, sometimes emotions get in the way of common sense. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons people may avoid estate planning and why, ultimately, managing your feelings can buy you the ultimate peace of mind.
"I Don’t Want To Think About End-Of-Life Issues"
While no one likes to think about death, estate planning can help you feel more in control of what transpires after it happens. This is where a technique that Psychology Today defines as reframing — in which the facts stay the same, but the way we position them in our mind changes — comes in. Rather than dwelling on the cessation of life aspect of estate planning, use this moment to take stock of all you have accomplished and what type of legacy you want to pass on to your loved ones. You may even want to start the process by journaling, so that you feel less anxious. According to an article by the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood by helping you prioritize problems, fears and concerns. And a good estate planner can help you translate those issues into a strategy you feel comfortable leaving behind as your legacy.
“Everyone Will Know About My Finances”
Whether you’re nervous that you’re in debt, haven’t invested wisely or simply don’t have much you think is worth passing on, a detailed estate plan with a beneficiary helps keep your private financial matters private. In fact, without a plan, you’re at greater risk of your estate going through court in a proceeding called probate in which your choices become visible to people outside your trusted inner circle.
“Estate Planning Is Daunting”
First, know that you’re not alone in this thought. According to Wealth’s survey, among people who do have an estate plan in place, 46% say the hardest part of setting up the plan was figuring out how to start. But another lesson gleaned from therapy is that sometimes the anticipation is worse than the reality. One way to make planning an estate seem less insurmountable is to break the task into smaller pieces. To do so, you may want to work with a professional to create a timeline and strategy for tackling each piece that works for you (for a list of the major components of an estate plan, follow the link here). By taking the process at your own pace, you are likely to feel less overwhelmed.
“I Don’t Want To Burden My Loved Ones With Estate Planning”
The short-term discomfort you may feel discussing end-of-life issues with your family and loves ones will be greatly offset by the emotional havoc you will save them if you end up incapacitated or when you pass away. If your estate plan doesn’t include detailed instructions for a decision-maker as well as a long-term care plan, the emotional hardships your loved ones will face in those critical moments will be compounded. You can prevent your loved ones from confusion and having to make rushed choices if your estate is in order.
“It All Feels So Impersonal”
Again, try to see estate planning as a final act of love or caring. Often, people decide to plan their own estate after they’ve had to settle a parent’s estate, which wasn’t managed before their passing. Taking care of all that bureaucracy in advance gives loved ones the time and space they need to grieve — which may be the most personal gift you can leave behind.