Seven Bad Excuses People Use to Put Off Estate Planning

Handwriting text What s is Your Excuse question. Concept meaning Explanations for not doing something. Notebook with text WHATS YOUR EXCUSE on bright blue background with colored paper lobs
  1. Can’t we put off planning until we can afford it? My family and I don’t own much.

You really shouldn’t. It is crucial to give legal authority to a person of your choice whether to make decisions for you in a medical crisis, to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to, or to care for your children if anything should happen to you. Your choice in those matters is almost always better than a stranger (i.e., the court) deciding. And surely you don’t want your children to become wards of the court or to be delivered to a family member you don’t like. Also, the cost to you at the front end (now) is much less than it could be later when your family might face steep legal fees to get the job done. Lawyers are all in favor of earning a living. But I never want clients to have to pay for costs that are unnecessary or avoidable. And more often than not, failure to plan brings unnecessary and avoidable costs.

  1. My son just graduated from high school. He owns nothing but an autographed baseball and my mother’s old 2008 Ford Taurus. Surely I don’t have to worry about an estate plan for him, do I?

You should. Estate planning isn’t just about owning property. Life needs protecting, too. If your child should lose consciousness in an accident, and he is over the age of 18, you as a parent will no longer have the automatic legal authority to decide what medical treatment he should receive. Insurance companies might refuse to deal with you. And you would not automatically be the person who could protect his rights in a lawsuit.

Just imagine the stress of it. While tending to your ill child, being there to help, you might not have access to take care of areas beyond his immediate needs. And if you and your child’s other parent disagree on your child’s care, then what? To handle your child’s affairs or to solve those disagreements, you might have to go to court and get a guardianship – over your own child.

Instead, just think how much easier (and less expensive) it would be for your adult child to proactively take care of this basic planning such as assigning a power of attorney over financial and medical decisions. Those are ways for your child to convey legal authority onto you or the people of your adult child’s choice to act on your child’s behalf if he becomes unable.

  1. Our kids are grown and married. Can’t my spouse and I postpone planning?

You shouldn’t. First, you can never tell when disaster might strike. Second, your kids may seem happily married now, but there’s no telling how long for – and you don’t want to see their, and possibly your, money and property lost in bitter divorce proceedings or lawsuits or bankruptcies.

  1. Our kids are able-bodied, thank goodness. Why should we worry about protecting disability benefits for them if they don’t need them?

They might not need those benefits now. But if they become disabled in the future, and if they inherit money from you, inherited money could cost them thousands of dollars a year in benefits. In advance estate plans, McCreary Law Office works with you to make sure your will includes steps to protect that money if your children do become disabled.

  1. My doctors know best. I’m not going to tell them how to do their jobs, and I don’t want anyone else doing that either. What’s wrong with that?

Do you want to be kept alive on machines, possibly for years, when you no longer can care for yourself, recognize loved ones, converse, or even swallow? These days, medical machines can breathe for you through a tube in your throat, keep your heart beating, and deliver food and fluids through a tube in your stomach. Many who are on these machines die in the hospital, their arms restrained to prevent dislodging the tubes. Few of us want that. You can decline those extreme measures with advance directives. More importantly you can make those decisions in advance so your loved ones don’t have to make the decision for you.

  1. Can’t I just grab a will off the internet, do a transfer-on-death deed for my land, put my kids on my bank account, and call it done?

Just look at some of the complications, in the above answers. An estate plan should protect disabled children’s inheritances from loss of valuable government benefits. It should avoid probate complications. It should protect money from creditors or divorce or remarriage. It should avoid disputes between children as joint owners.

A bigger problem, though, is the immense risk your off-the-internet will is not correct for your state or your situation. Too many probate attorneys make a lot of money in cleaning up the mess of do-it-yourself wills. And that cost is much greater than hiring an estate planning attorney now.

Even a relatively simple situation contains many moving parts. It takes special legal knowledge to coordinate the various strategies. Don’t risk a result you wouldn’t want. Call the office to create a plan that harmonizes the moving parts so the gears will work together and so you can leave the legacy you intended.

  1. Can’t I just forget the whole thing and let my kids deal with it after I’m gone?

Sure you can. But your kids will not thank you for leaving a disorganized mess behind. When they are in the midst of grief, dealing with the loss of their parent, having to pay attorneys more money then, and having no guidance from you, it is not the best way to be remembered. I’ve been there, and it’s a passion of mine that no one else should have to go through that.

Here’s one good idea:

Call my office. The planning I put in place for you might seem like “just pieces of paper,” but it’s what is on the paper and the legal advice and knowledge behind it that brings immense value. At a stressful time when additional hurdles are the last thing your family needs, powers of attorney and other estate-planning options could save you and your family delay, expense, and heartache. Please contact McCreary Law Office or call the Jacksonville, FL office at 904-425-9046 or the Houston, TX office at 713-568-8600.

Attorney Jana McCreary

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Houston Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney Jana R. McCreary has been an attorney for over nineteen years, a career move she made after working for over a decade with adults and children with intellectual disabilities and mental illness. Graduatin… Read More

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