I’m not sure there are official statistics for this, but based on my experience as a Cary wills and trust lawyer, the number one reason people don’t do their estate plan is that they simply can’t face their own mortality.
In a way, we are like the groundhog…occasionally we stick our heads out of our warm, protected, cave of ignorance to think about what would happen to our family if something unexpectedly happens to us. In regard to estate planning, are you the type of peek-out, see your shadow, and go back in to your safe and warm bunker and hide type of person? Or do you step out and face the day and charge full steam ahead?
Interestingly enough, the tradition of the groundhog being afraid of seeing his shadow is a recent phenomenon. The tradition started as a medieval superstition that all hibernating animals (not just the groundhog) came out of their caves and dens to check the weather in early February. If the animal could see their shadow, it meant winter could go on for another 6 weeks which meant they could go back to sleep. A cloudy day meant spring was just around the corner and they could venture out. As you can see, shadow didn’t “scare” the animal back into the safety of their den. It was simply an alarm clock of sorts!
So with that myth dispelled, I also want you to stop using the fear of your mortality as a reason for postponing doing your own will or trust.
Simply think of estate planning as a way to ensure that your legacy will go to the people you want, in the way you want, when you want. It will also allow you to save your loved ones court costs, attorney’s fees and most importantly, will allow them to mourn your loss without the additional burden of dealing with government red tape, a chaotic court system and financial confusion.
So, as we see all the news and excitement surrounding Punxsutawney Phil this year, take a long look at yourself and see if you are ready to make sure your family is taken care of no matter what. If your plans are sorely lacking, I invite you to give me, your neighborhood wills and trusts lawyer a call to discuss your options.