Estate Planning Is a Labor of Love

As I grow older, I am always amazed at how quickly time passes. I hear myself saying I can’t believe that this year is coming to an end already! There is so much to do and so little time. One of the commitments The Griffin Firm has made is to educate the community on the advantages and burdens of estate planning.

We have spoken to thousands of people over the year. While there are many people do not know what estate planning is, most of those who attend workshops or presentations do know what estate planning means. Typically 80 percent of those in attendance do not have an estate plan. When I refer to an estate plan I am not talking about an elaborate cascade of Trusts. I am talking about a simple Last Will & Testament that will keep peace in the family.

We often take surveys as to why the attendants have not completed an estate plan. The most consistent answer is procrastination. I often repeat this story about a wonderful woman came to have a consultation with me after a presentation at her church with her daughter. She had some questions on how to protect her home from Medicaid lien if she needed a nursing home. Well I answered her questions in a way that allayed her concerns about how to protect her home. She then said she appreciated the information but said “I will wait”. I politely asked her age because she was accompanied by her daughter who also appeared to be a senior citizen. She said she was 90 years old and wanted to wait!

Most of us have a vision. One of my favorite scriptures in Habakkuk says “write the vision and make it plain so that those who read it can run with it.” Our short coming is that we don’t write it down. We have had people state that they have had conversations with their loved ones. But we know that does not hold legal weight. Statistics show that goals that are written down are 42 percent more likely to be achieved. Writing a goal allows clarity, strategic planning and enforcement.

It is easier to achieve a goal when there is a longer time frame and opportunity to work on it. The longer you have to work on anything the greater the possible outcome.

What we know is that whether we plan or not time does not stop for us. We will get older or we won’t. The people who depend on us will still have needs to be met. Our indecision or inaction does not fill the void that is created when we don’t make arrangements and plans. We are interdependent people. Our lives are lived in a way that when we pass away or become ill there will be emotional despair and grief.

Procrastination very rarely has a positive benefit. It can hurt the people who are closest to us. Take the steps to create the legacy and support the people that you love most in the world when they are experiencing the greatest distress.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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