As an estate planning attorney in Silver Spring, MD, I hear lots of reasons why people haven’t gotten around to making an estate plan. The Washington Post, my local newspaper, usually publishes a Five Myths column with guest writers on Sundays. In the spirit of that column, here are five myths – or reasons – I hear all too frequently when I ask people whether they have made an estate plan.
I’m too young, and I don’t own enough to have an estate plan. Everyone has stuff. You’re not too young to have stuff, so you’re never too young to think about what would happen with your stuff if you were no longer around. You don’t have to own a lot to have a plan for what happens with your stuff. Maybe you would want to leave a game ball to former teammate or your collection of fridge magnets to your travel buddy. Whatever it is, you have something that would be of value to someone. Besides, when you’re young and don’t own a lot, a simple will is easy and economical.
I don’t have children, so I don’t need an estate plan. Sure, a lot of people get serious about having an estate plan when they have children. I did that, myself. Thinking back, I should have done it earlier. Like I said above, maybe you have a particular piece you want to give to someone. Or, maybe you have thoughts about how or where you want to be buried, or maybe you’d like to be cremated and have your ashes spread at a special spot. You can say all of that in your will. Letting your family know what you want takes a burden off of them.
I’m too busy to make an estate plan right now. We’re all busy. We have jobs. We take care of our children or even our parents. We find time to do the things that are really important to us and those we love. Making an estate plan is important. It doesn’t take that long to sit down, decide what you want to do, tell me what you want, review the documents I’ve drafted, and sign them. Three short meetings, boom – talk about what you want, review documents, and sign documents. You can handle that. I can help you. I meet with busy clients in their off-work hours to help them execute an estate plan.
My family will be just fine even if I don’t have an estate plan. Maybe you would give everything just as it would be divided by intestate succession, the state’s default estate plan. Then again, maybe you wouldn’t. Like I said above, maybe you want to give a memento of a special event to someone who was there with you. Maybe you want to give a family heirloom to a sibling. Maybe you want to set up a trust to ensure your children can afford college. Your estate plan can do all of those and more. Moreover, if you have minor children, you owe it to them to designate who will care for them if you aren’t around anymore. Like I said in my earlier blog, if you live in Maryland and don’t make that decision in your will, a court is going to make that decision for you. Maybe the court would make the same decision you would, but why take that chance?
It’s too morbid to think about my own death. I get it. It’s no fun to think about dying, but like I’ve said before, Ben Franklin was right, “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Preparing for death doesn’t make it happen any faster, but it will make it easier on your loved ones when the inevitable does occur, especially if it occurs unexpectedly. Why make that time more stressful for your loved ones than it already is? Take care of your loved ones by making your wishes known in estate plan. Contact my office for an appointment today, and let’s mark this off your to-do list.