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Opinion: Eliminating estate planning excuses

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Estate planning is a topic that most people prefer to avoid. Confronting mortality and planning for the distribution of our assets after we’re no longer around can be uncomfortable, leading many to put it off or ignore it altogether. However, failing to set up an estate plan can have serious consequences for you and your loved ones. Let’s explore five common excuses people use to avoid estate planning and rebut them with practical arguments.

  1. “I’m too young to need an estate plan.” Some believe estate planning is only for older individuals with significant assets. However, accidents and unexpected health issues can happen at any age. Estate planning is not just about distributing wealth – it’s also about ensuring your wishes are carried out in case of incapacity or untimely death and making things easy on your family. This is especially true if you have minor children, as guardianship provisions are extremely important. Regardless of age, having simple documents like a will, power of attorney and health care directive can provide peace of mind and prevent potential legal battles for your loved ones. By establishing an estate plan early, you’re prepared for unforeseen circumstances and can designate trusted individuals to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so.
  2. “I don’t have enough assets.” Many believe if they don’t have substantial wealth, there’s no need for estate planning. However, estate planning is not just for the wealthy. It’s about protecting what you have and ensuring it goes to the right people according to your wishes. Even if you have modest assets, estate planning can help avoid complications and ensure your family is taken care of. Estate planning involves more than just distributing assets. It includes appointing guardians for minor children, avoiding probate, specifying health care preferences and minimizing tax burdens. Regardless of your asset level, having an estate plan in place can provide clarity and protection for your loved ones.
  3. “I’ll do it later.” Procrastination is a common excuse. Many people believe they have plenty of time to get their affairs in order and prioritize other tasks over estate planning. However, life is unpredictable, and delaying estate planning can leave you vulnerable in the event of an emergency or unexpected illness. By putting it off, you risk leaving your loved ones in a difficult situation with little to no guidance. Taking the time to create an estate plan ensures that your wishes are known and your loved ones are provided for, no matter what happens.
  4. “It’s too expensive.” Some individuals may avoid estate planning because they perceive it as costly. While there are expenses associated with creating an estate plan, the cost of not having one can be far greater. Without an estate plan, your assets may be subject to probate, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Additionally, without clear directives, there may be disputes among family members over who should manage your estate or assume guardianship over your children, leading to further legal expenses. The cost of estate planning varies depending on your needs and complexity of your estate. While there are up-front costs associated with creating a plan, consider it an investment in the future well-being of your loved ones. Compared to the potential costs of probate and legal battles, the expense of estate planning is relatively minimal.
  5. “I don’t want to think about death.” Many people avoid estate planning because they find it morbid or uncomfortable to confront their own mortality. While contemplating one’s mortality can be difficult, avoiding the topic won’t make it go away. Instead of viewing it as a morbid task, think of estate planning as a gift to your loved ones, providing a blueprint for their protection and to secure your legacy. By planning ahead, you can alleviate stress and ensure that your wishes are respected when the time comes.

While it’s understandable to have reservations about estate planning, avoiding it can have serious consequences. By addressing these common excuses with a trusted estate planning attorney, individuals can recognize the importance of planning and take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones. It’s never too early to start planning for the future.

Andy Peebles is an estate planning and business attorney with the law firm of Carnahan Evans PC. He can be reached at


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