For many of us, estate planning is one of those major tasks we tend to put on the “I’ll do it later” list. We know intellectually that getting this done as soon as possible is in our legacy and family’s best interests. However, avoidance that stems from fear puts the brakes on when we need to accelerate.
Behavioral psychologists call this phenomenon decision avoidance, which occurs when we have to make an important, high-stakes decision and when there are many choices involved. The result of this combination is decision paralysis, which is what we experience when we avoid estate planning altogether.
Factor #1: The Paradox of Choice
In the current world, more and more options are becoming easily available to us. The paradox of choice asserts that although we might believe that being presented with multiple options makes it easier to choose one that we are happy with and, as a result, increases our satisfaction, having an abundance of options requires more effort to decide. As a result, it can leave us feeling anxious instead.
If we were just given the choice of selecting between two objects, it would be much simpler to determine which option we prefer because the benefits and drawbacks of each can be compared and contrasted. However, when more options are available, it becomes increasingly more work to choose which is the best.
Estate planning involves distilling a plethora of chosen wishes (and options) into legal documents. For example: How should you allocate the assets in your estate? What are the appropriate legal mechanisms to achieve this objective? What are your options if you later decide you wish to alter how your estate is managed? Who is best suited to manage the estate? How can you evaluate different resources to determine which will best meet your requirements?
Fortunately, these choices become more understandable when working with an experienced estate planning attorney. You won’t be made to analyze and anticipate every choice and scenario yourself..that’s why we are here! Instead, your attorney’s job is to counsel, advise, and guide you through the process of estate planning. Knowing you have someone by your side advocating for your best interests when creating your estate plan makes a world of difference.
Factor #2: High-Stakes Decision-Making
Estate planning inherently involves making several high-stakes decisions. And, when we think about high-stakes decisions, the pressure of making the right decision can be overwhelming. However, framing decision-making in this way often renders us less prepared to act on tasks that matter most to us. Thinking of decision-making as something we must find the perfect answer to because we have to get it right is unnecessary pressure.
Working with an estate planning attorney takes the overwhelming pressure off when it comes to high-stakes decision-making. We don’t expect you to become an overnight expert on estate planning. You can leave that to us! An attorney will help you with complex issues such as:
- Organizing and conducting estate planning meetings and working with your advisors (accountants, investment specialists, etc.) if necessary
- Analyzing your property and asset inventory to integrate each item into your estate plan properly
- Listen to your objectives and advise you on alternatives, potential pitfalls, and additional considerations
- Considering who the best people are to name for agent under powers of attorney, trustees, executorships, and guardian of your minor children
- Counseling regarding philanthropic initiatives or other personal goals and preferences
- Filling gaps in other important matters such as medical and financial objectives, end-of-life choices, organ donation, and funeral preferences, among others
How We Can Reframe Our Avoidance
An important way to reframe the avoidance predicament is to remember that inaction is an action. Whether you choose to estate plan or not, your decision will produce an outcome. Keep in mind that some opportunity costs of avoiding estate planning include: choosing the right guardians for minor children, providing for your family, planning for incapacity, naming the right beneficiaries, establishing fiduciaries over your estate, and easing the burden on your family when you pass.
Attend a Free, On-Demand Estate Planning Workshop
We invite you to attend our convenient, on-demand estate planning workshop. You’ll leave the presentation with newfound knowledge on how to make your estate plan work for you, how to avoid common pitfalls, and the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. The best part? You will receive a complimentary consultation with an attorney as a workshop participant. Access it anytime, anywhere. Click here to learn more.