Since giving up bad habits such as overeating, smoking, not exercising and not saving enough for retirement spur millions of New Year’s resolutions every year, let us be more realistic and take the time now to ring in the New Year with an ode to procrastination, our default way of dealing with important but not urgent matters in our lives. Here is my top 10 list for not completing (or periodically reviewing) one’s estate planning documents, with my apologies to David Letterman and all of my law practice clients who have not procrastinated about their legal documents.
1. I’m too busy right now with learning to work the electronic gadgets I got for Christmas.
2. It costs too much, and anyway, let my heirs pay the price for it.
3. I don’t like lawyers. I’ve never had a lawyer and I don’t need one now. Lots of other people get really sick and die without estate documents and lawyers, and so can I. Have you heard the joke about the lawyer who has a custom suite designed by a brilliant tailor? No pockets in it because lawyers never have their hands in their own pockets.
4. Whenever I get really sick or in a really bad accident, I’ll get a lawyer to come to my hospital room.
5. There is no one I know that I trust to handle my healthcare and financial affairs.
6. “I don’t like to think about things I don’t like to think about.” H.L Menken, “Inherit the Wind.”
7. I read you have to have over $5m to have your estate taxed by the federal government, so when I pass that hurdle I may have a need for estate planning.
8. The rules for those dying intestate in California were written with me and my family’s best interests in mind. Why should I think I can improve on their plans for us?
9. The thing keeping us from making a will or trust is that we aren’t sure whether her relatives or mine should get the furniture.
10. We have a clearly defined spending plan that insures we will be broke sooner than the end of our lives.
If you’d like to help nudge someone you care about to ‘put their affairs in order’ while they are still thinking of New Year’s resolutions, why not forward my Lifetime Legal email newsletter to them? They just might thank you for it.”