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Estate Planning Mistakes

In a world that is not always predictable, wills are becoming increasingly important in order to prepare for the unexpected. While many of life’s surprises bring great joy, there are unanticipated events that require preparedness and planning. Sudden illness, car accidents, unexpected death, and old age affect people’s lives whether or not they have planned for unforeseen crises.

Recent end-of-life battles covered by the news media have drawn much attention to this crucial issue, but many still do not have wills or powers of attorney made up for themselves and their families. Wills provide control in that they allow a person to determine how they will be cared for in sickness and old age, and they help family and loved ones to cope with difficult and stressful situations. So why do people not have a will? These are some of the most common excuses:

  1. I simply don’t need one. My family knows what I want done, and I have a hand-written list. That should be sufficient — right?
  2. I never took the time to do it. Don’t I have enough to worry about?
  3. I don’t like to think about dying.
  4. I don’t like lawyers.
  5. I plan on taking it with me!
  6. Wills cost too much! I made my own special arrangements, so why spend the money to have one drawn up?
  7. Let the government and the lawyers take it all!
  8. I don’t need one until I have kids.
  9. Let my kids work it out themselves. After all, I don’t want to make it easy on them after I’m gone!
  10. I’m afraid of lawyers.
  11. I have a hard time making decisions. I can’t decide who should get what or how to be fair.
  12. I don’t have anyone to give it to.
  13. I’m too young to die!
  14. What’s a will?
  15. I don’t trust lawyers! (I don’t blame you.)
  16. The dog ate it.

Ok, it was the top 16 reasons… Although these excuses may seem reasonable and valid, wills serve many important purposes, and there are plenty of reasons for making one. Wills eliminate uncertainty in terms of the medical care and procedures used during illness. Modern medical technology allows doctors to keep people alive artificially using respirators and feeding tubes, sometimes indefinitely. Having a will means that family members will know what decisions to make, based on your personal wishes. Having a will also ensures control over money and other assets, so that possessions will be distributed according to your desires, and not according to state laws.

Finally, having a will provides family members with a certain degree of comfort during a time of grieving and loss. Without a will, families and loved ones face difficult decisions with little or no guidance. They must deal with medical and funeral costs, as well as distribution of belongings, both of which can lead to arguments and disputes. Forget the excuses — even though it may not be a pleasant topic or a fun issue, wills are a necessary and important concern. In consideration of all the people left behind after your death, and to ensure that your personal wishes are not disregarded, everyone should have a will.