Overcoming the Five Roadblocks to Legal Planning: Part Four
Updated: Nov 23, 2022
Captain’s Blog: 009
Part IV: Perception
We’re in the home stretch! In our series, Overcoming the Five Roadblocks to Legal Planning, we have discussed the obstacles of Unawareness, Time, and Money. We’ve considered how unawareness of estate planning can lead to misconceptions, which can diminish the importance of these legal documents. We also noted that, as busy adults, we rarely have time to learn about legal planning to bust these erroneous myths. Above all, the biggest roadblock to legal planning for many people is money.
Regardless of their financial circumstances, many individuals add insurance policies to their monthly budget. Car insurance and home owner’s or renter’s insurances safeguard our possessions from potential disasters. While these expenses ensure protection for physical objects and offer peace of mind, why aren’t we putting money aside to protect ourselves and our wishes? Why aren’t we saving each month for the ultimate peace of mind? Why aren’t we saving for estate planning documents?
While money is a significant roadblock to estate planning, we have yet to discuss the big, fat elephant in the room: Perception.
Perception. The fourth obstacle to legal planning is perception. Let’s face it: Ill-health, dying, and death are bummer topics. Even the idea of confronting these sensitive issues makes scrubbing the bathroom floor look pretty darn good.
No one will argue this point. Ill-health, dying, and death aren’t a basket of fluffy puppies. There’s very little to feel good about when entertaining your physical and mental decline or mortality. However, if you think confronting these topics now—while you’re in good health—is super junky, try doing it when you’re hip-deep in a serious health crisis. Worst, how will your wishes be carried out if you’re unable to make decisions or you’re unable to articulate your instructions?
Many of us place our loved ones’ needs before our own. However, if you haven’t documented your end-of-life wishes, then your loved ones will suffer the consequences because they will be forced to make decisions without your direction. They will be placed in a position to guess what you might have wanted, which is nothing less than sheer agony when the life or death of someone you love hangs in the balance. A Living Will is an estate planning document that expresses your medical treatment preferences as you near the very end of your life.
One day, I was speaking with an air conditioning repairman while he was repairing my unit on a sweltering summer afternoon. We engaged in polite conversation, and he became interested in my profession as an elder law attorney. He kindly shared his story with me, and truly, his life lesson teaches more about Living Wills than I could ever say.
He spoke of his Grandmother, with whom he was very close. She was nearing the end of her life, and his family was grieving the inevitable loss of their beloved matriarch. They weren’t ready to let her go.
However, this extraordinary woman had executed a Living Will that expressed her wishes. She did not want her life prolonged through medical intervention. She declined artificial hydration and nutrition; she wanted to die naturally. The man with whom I was speaking told me, “No one wants to be the one who pulls the plug on Grandma. Thank God she made that decision for us.”
It’s true that ill-health, dying, and death aren’t warm summer breezes, white-powdered sand, or cold umbrella drinks. However, with proactive legal planning, you can give your loved ones the greatest gift of all: Making the decisions for them. To the gentleman who told me his story, his Grandmother’s loving gift was far better than the very best day at the beach.
We’ll wrap our series, Overcoming the Five Roadblocks to Legal Planning, in our next Captain’s Blog when we'll discuss Procrastination as the last obstacle to estate planning. (Click here to cross the finish line with our fifth installment!) 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.