“If you Fail to Plan – You Plan to Fail”

–Benjamin Franklin

The Will To Plan

Despite the hectic pace of life in America today, most of us still enjoy a fair amount of leisure time. Almost all Americans (95 percent) engage in some sort of leisure activity every day. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics we get about five hours of leisure time a day, and spend most of it (almost three hours) watching television. The rest of the time we are doing other activities like reading, relaxing and thinking, socializing, playing games, surfing the web and participating in sports and exercise.

Conspicuously absent from that list is estate planning. Americans are almost overwhelmingly opposed to the idea. Harris Interactive recently polled more than 2,000 adults on the subject and found that 28 percent of us would rather do anything else and nearly one-third said they would rather do their taxes or get a root canal.

Why?

One clear reason is most people simply don’t know how to get started tackling their own estate planning. It seems like such a large and confusing topic, maybe one that dances dangerously close to topics we’d rather not have to think about, our own mortality and the consequences that may cause our loved ones –ironic as these same reasons serve as the best case you can make for planning your estate!

Do You Have a Will?

Little wonder then most of us (61 percent) don’t even have a Will, one of the most basic of estate planning documents. Dig a little deeper, though, and the numbers are even more disturbing. Among parents with minor children in the household, only 30 percent have a Will – the most universally accepted legal document for naming back-up parents in the event the children are orphaned.

Of course, Wills are not the only documents needed to protect you and your assets in the event of death or incapacity. Another Harris survey found that only 29 percent of us have a Living Will to direct end-of-life medical procedures. Even older Americans are hardly prepared. The same Harris survey found that only 48 percent of those over age 65 have a financial power in place authorizing someone to make financial decisions for them if they are incapacitated and only 51 percent said they had a healthcare power in place.

Even though estate planning is not on anyone’s list of Top Ten Favorite Activities, most of us realize the need to get at least basic planning in place to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our assets from life’s uncertainties, and the one certainty of death. And yet, most of us haven’t done it.

You Have Good Intentions

Why not? The number one reason, given by more than 55 percent of respondents, is simple procrastination. Most people say they just haven’t gotten around to it.

If you’ve ever made a New Year’s Resolution, you know we all have good intentions … but our follow-through could use some work. 

Piers Steel, a psychologist at the University of Calgary and one of the leading experts on procrastination says it’s a “common pulse of humanity” to procrastinate, despite our best intentions. “One thing that defines procrastination isn’t a lack of intention to work,” Steel says. “It’s the difficulty of following through on that intention.”

Steel goes on to say that for most of us, procrastination isn’t a pleasant experience. It’s a feeling of growing pressure – of knowing we will have to deal eventually with whatever it is we’re putting off … like creating the necessary legal documents to name back-up parents for minor children, state our preferences for end-of-life medical care, designate financial and health care decision-makers in the event of our incapacity or death, and outlining a plan to distribute our assets after death. As difficult as those decisions can seem – putting them off by procrastinating only adds to the pressure and makes us feel worse. In fact Steel writes in his book, “The Procrastination Equation,” that procrastination leads to lower overall well- being, worse health and even lower salaries.

Beat Procrastination the Easy Way!

If you have resolved to get your estate plan in place this year – good for you!
Now, here’s a plan to beat procrastination: Steel says the trick is to reframe broad, ambitious goals into concrete, manageable, immediate chunks.

So, instead of saying, “This year, I’m going to get my entire estate plan in order,” break that down into smaller, less formidable goals. For example, the first step is to order a copy of Organizing Your Family Legacy, “a practical action plan for those you leave behind”.  The authors wrote it to help you plan your estate using easy to follow directions and guidelines that remove the mystery, answer questions and help you get on track painlessly! 

Don’t let yourself get stalled by thinking of all the decisions you will have to make to complete a comprehensive plan. Focus on one quick, easy decision. Check out the book right now.

If-you-fail-to-plan