Updated: Nov 11, 2022
Captain’s Blog: 006
As adults, there are a million items on our Grown-Up To-Do list. The mundane chores are shuffled, depending on our moods and needs. “Nope. I don’t feel like mopping the floor today,” or “Skip the laundry, I have one clean pair of socks left.” Ill-timed mishaps, like a broken hot water heater, shove themselves to the top of the To Do, mostly because we’re inconvenienced in some way. There are also nagging Big Chores that we keep pushing-off, like an oil change, but we eventually succumb to these tasks because a trip to an auto service station is a lot cheaper than buying a new car.
In an entirely different category on the Grown-Up To-Do list, there are crummy, necessary tasks that require attention, but here’s the kicker: They have no apparent deadline. When there’s no expiration date on a chore, it becomes the most dangerous task of all. You know you gotta, but man, you just don’t wanna. Estate planning falls into this esteemed category.
Many people push-off legal planning until a full-blown crisis confronts them. However, an emergency is the absolute worst time to do any type of planning because it’s not really “planning” at all. It’s reacting to a crisis.
Why do we put off estate planning? What’s in our way? What prevents us from completing one of the most important To Dos of our lives? Generally, there are five roadblocks to legal life planning: Unawareness, Time, Money, Perception, and Procrastination. In this Captain’s Blog, we’ll discuss Unawareness.
Unawareness. The first obstacle to legal planning is unawareness…because seriously…how can you be aware of something that you know nothing about? Many people don’t know what estate planning is or why estate planning is so critical. There is a lack of awareness across our country because there is a lack of education.
Estate planning isn’t taught in school. When a life skill isn't addressed in the educational system, parents typically fill the role of educator. However, if the parent was never taught the importance of estate planning, then the life skill can’t be passed down to the child. Unfortunately, when a life skill isn’t taught—and an individual doesn’t actively seek out the information—knowledge is often replaced by misconceptions.
The biggest misconception about estate planning is that it’s just for the wealthy. Many people believe estate planning simply doesn’t apply to their financial position. If it doesn’t apply to them, then there’s no need to attend to it. This perception of estate planning is false.
In fact, three of the most important estate planning documents have absolutely nothing to do with a person’s amount of wealth. A Durable Power of Attorney, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, and Living Will are instructions that tell other people what to do in the case of a health emergency. (Outside of Florida, the first two documents can be called a Financial Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney.) They express your wishes in the event that you are unable to make decisions or you are unable to articulate decisions, either temporarily or permanently. It doesn’t matter how much is in your savings account; it doesn’t matter if you own stocks; and it certainly doesn’t matter whether your financial portfolio is well-diversified.
If misconceptions about estate planning replace knowledge, then how can you understand the true significance of these legal documents? You don’t. Until you have to. Which is why estate planning happens during a crisis. A lot.
Any attorney will tell you that they earnestly wish all clients planned in advance. However, if the general public isn’t aware of estate planning, then how can they know its importance? That’s why Beach Barrister was created. Everyone should have access to fundamental information about laws that impact each of us.
We invite you to kick around our website, BeachBarrister.com. Enjoy our tropical scenery; dip your toe in the water, and watch a fun, short video. Learn just one little tidbit about estate planning. You’ll be surprised how easily and quickly you understand the information! Hopefully, you’ll come back to visit another one of our coastal locations, featured in each video introduction, and learn just one more thing about estate planning! (Click here to check out our Video Gallery!) Before long, you’ll be a salty, sage sailor of the Estate Planning Seas!
Please join us for our next Captain’s Blog, where we’ll discuss the second roadblock to legal planning, which is Time. (Click here for Overcoming the Five Roadblocks to Legal Planning: Part Two.) Until then...
Plan Early. Plan Often. Plan Well.
Beach Barrister is NOT a law firm. We are an educational forum. We do NOT legally counsel individuals based upon their specific life circumstances or planning goals.
Beach Barrister is NOT a substitute for legal counsel. We highly encourage every viewer of this site to seek a local, licensed, reputable attorney to assist you with your state-specific laws, planning goals, and execution of documents.