Bring up the topic of estate planning and you may be surprised at the responses you receive. Many people say talking about wills and estate planning makes them become discouraged or think of death. Others may respond with various reasons why they believe it isn’t important or necessary at this point in their lives. In fact, CNBC shared the results of a study in 2022 from Caring.com that found approximately 67% of Americans have no estate plan in place.
Our Estate Planning Attorneys at Promise Law share the top excuses they hear for avoiding estate planning, plus some reasons you should not put it off any longer.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of creating a set of legal documents to outline what will happen to your assets, including insurance policies, property, accounts and minor children, after you pass away. It also establishes plans for incapacity and long-term care before those important decisions need to be made. Any good Virginia estate plan should include:
- A Will – a legal document that outlines how your assets will be distributed after your death.
- A Power of Attorney – this document grants authority to an individual to act on your behalf in financial and legal matters.
- A Health Care Directive – also known as an advance directive, this document spells out your wishes for medical treatment in the event you cannot decide for yourself.
- Trusts – this important legal entity holds assets to benefit your family or other beneficiaries and has important inheritance and tax benefits. While you may think they are “only for rich people” trusts are a useful tool for most families.
- Beneficiary Designations – these determine who will receive assets that may not have to pass through probate, like retirement accounts, bank accounts, life insurance and some personal property.
- Funeral and Burial Instructions – making these arrangements in advance can save your family from the burden of decision-making during a difficult time.
20 Most Common Reasons Given for Avoiding Estate Planning
The objections given for avoiding estate planning are many and varied. Here are the 20 most common reasons people give to avoid Virginia estate planning.
- I’m too young for an estate plan.
- I don’t have enough assets for an estate plan.
- Estate planning is too expensive.
- My family will handle everything without problems after I’m gone.
- Estate planning is too complicated and takes too long.
- I don’t know how to begin estate planning.
- I don’t have time for estate planning.
- Preparing a will means I’m ready to die.
- After I die, I don’t care what happens to my estate.
- I don’t like thinking about death.
- Estate planning doesn’t sound like too much fun.
- I don’t like lawyers.
- I’m not ready to make hard decisions.
- I don’t trust my family with my assets.
- I’m waiting for when I have more assets than debts.
- I only have one child, so everything automatically goes to them.
- I don’t know if I even need an estate plan.
- My spouse and I cannot agree on the specifics of an estate plan.
- I’m afraid of making bad decisions.
- I don’t want to talk about my private affairs with strangers.
Reasons to Stop Avoiding Estate Planning in Virginia
The main reason to stop avoiding estate planning is to prevent complete strangers from determining what happens to your family and assets after you die. Without an estate plan, the Virginia default rules (as determined by the legislature) have the authority to determine where your assets go and who is authorized to manage the process, creating substantial emotional or even financial burdens for your loved ones.
You should also understand that estate planning allows you to designate guardians for any minor children or family members with special needs and set aside the necessary funds for their ongoing care. Without an estate plan, the courts are in charge of these critical decisions.
Moreover, an effective estate plan will help you provide for any future healthcare needs should they arise. Long-term care planning is just wise and it prevents your loved ones from being faced with sudden painful decisions and burdens concerning your care.
Contact Promise Law in Newport News, VA to learn more about Virginia estate planning and our FREE Estate Planning Workshop, which includes a complimentary consultation with one of our Estate Planning Attorneys. Call or message us online today to learn more.