Can’t quite get around to your will or estate plan? Find out what happened when this woman discovered her fiancé had put off updating his will since the war!
Did you know procrastination is common amongst will-makers, but often it’s the most loved-ones that suffer when a person dies without an up-to-date will?
Here is a quick story about a man who died recently with an outdated will. His will was made just before departing to fight in the Vietnam war. It had never been updated. Not kidding.
As a young man, with no spouse or children, the will distributed his assets amongst his 3 brothers in equal shares.
At the time of death, his primary asset was the home he occupied with his long-term partner. In fact, they were planning their wedding at the time he died.
Since signing his will he’d become estranged from one of the brothers named in the will. They really disliked each other.
After his death, 2 of the brothers recognized what their brother would have wanted, namely for his partner to inherit the house. They promptly agreed to hand over their respective shares of the estate to the partner. But the estranged brother was not so agreeable. He demanded a one-third share of the estate which would require the house to be sold.
The partner was forced to contest the will to secure her home. She negotiated an out of court settlement involving a lump sum payment to the estranged brother and legal fees.
We all know that we die eventually but cannot predict our time of death or when we might lose the capacity to make decisions. We simply don’t like to think about it.
Planning our estate is an admission of our mortality and slips to the bottom of our priorities, even though it may have serious repercussions for those we love.
So how do we shift our minds to give estate planning the importance it deserves?
Identifying the triggers of our procrastination is a great place to start. If you are procrastinating, have you considered why?
- Not sure where to start?
- Do you think your estate may be too modest to warrant a plan?
- Is it a fear of the time required to prepare the documents?
- Is it concern about the expense involved?
- Is it because you think you haven’t accumulated enough assets yet?
- Do you believe the Government will sort it out?
- Is it discomfort with acknowledging your mortality?
If you are procrastinating, it may be just one or a combination of these concerns. Regardless they all raise the same question.
Is the concern significant enough for you to put your loved ones at risk through lack of planning and inaction?
Of course, most of us care more about our families than avoiding some temporary emotional discomfort, or relatively small outlay of time and money.
When we ask clients why they waited so long, even those who procrastinated for years, we find most people really do care about their loved ones.
The Government’s formula to distribute a person’s assets after their death rarely matches what a person would have wanted. Not surprisingly, the distribution under this formula also occurs without regard to minimising tax liabilities or protecting assets from claims.
In the case of most people, when they find out how small the investment is to plan their estate in comparison to the benefits, they enthusiastically get on with it. They realise, if they can find the time to watch a movie with a loved one, they can also put aside a similar amount of time to provide for them in the best way following death.
So next time your mortality comes to mind, don’t shy away from it but shift your thoughts to those you love and how you want to be remembered.
Prepare things so that when your time comes, your estate plan and documentation will carry your wishes and provide ongoing comfort and happiness to those you leave behind.
Meet some of our will, estate planning and estate litigation, clients.
Hear about how they’ve overcome obstacles in their quest to leave a bigger, longer-lasting legacy.
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