No doubt about it, it’s been another rough year for most of us financially. And as we gather our tax forms and anxiously look forward to refunds, we are understanding the appeal of the present value of money. It feels better to have the money now, in our accounts, than to think of it stashed away somewhere else for some other amorphous time. I get it; believe me, I really, really get it. But here’s the thing: we know better!
Right? I mean, we know we should be passing by Starbucks, but we succumb to its siren song (or maybe that’s just me). We know we should stay home and come up with some really crafty way to entertain our preschoolers on the weekend, but a matinee complete with popcorn and a slushie feels better (or maybe that’s just my husband). Sometimes those forced savings plans are what are most effective to keep us safe from ourselves!
So I understand why so many of my friends and prospective clients are not so keen on spending a good chunk o’ hard-earned change on a comprehensive estate plan these days. It’s just not in the budget. There’s no line item in there for it, so you push it down the to-do list into the “when we can” category. Or perhaps you choose a less comprehensive plan (like a will-based instead of a trust-based plan, for now) or maybe you try your luck with a cheapie Do-It-Yourself (DIY) version. (Buyer beware!) If you think about it, you know it’s clearly more important to have a solid estate plan in place for your family, but buying birthday presents for all ten of your two children’s playmates’ birthday parties is more urgent. And getting a haircut and going out for dinner and paying a sitter are definitely more fun.
What it comes down to is this: “You’ve gotta ask yourself a question: ‘Do I feel lucky?” You probably have auto insurance, and you hope you won’t need to use it anytime soon. You probably have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, and hope you won’t ever need it. Then there’s that life insurance policy you know you need to protect your family just in case, and the disability insurance because statistically that’s more likely to happen than a premature death. If you’re like me, you have a whole host of other insurance policies too– like the personal articles policy we were glad to have when my husband’s wedding band went flying off his finger into the bay as he was playing football on jet skis with his brother on our first anniversary. Let’s not even get started on health insurance. Then there’s my business owner’s insurance, my errors and omissions (i.e. malpractice) insurance, and then… there’s my estate plan.
Our estate plan is the most important insurance policy my husband and I have to protect ourselves, one another, and our three children should anything ever happen to either or both of us. Think of an estate plan as a sort of cheap umbrella insurance policy for everything you value and on everything you own. Compared to the emotional suffering your loved ones might pay, the premiums you pay on all the other insurance types, and what you risk forking over to the government in state and federal taxes instead of passing on to your loved ones (more of you than you think!) hiring a qualified attorney to prepare your estate plan is a seriously wise investment in your family’s financial and emotional security. And if you doubt that, just check out the actual numbers. You’ll see it’s silly not to!
Sure, we’re young (not as young as we used to be, but relatively!), we’re healthy (tired, but in really good shape all things considered), and we have no plans to leave this earth any time soon. In fact, our motivation for doing everything we possibly can to stick around (our three and five-year-old and five-month-old daughters) is powerfully strong. But we know we’re not immune to the stuff that can happen. So we’ve taken the time to make sure the people we want to come to our kids’ rescue should anything ever happen to us are the ones who will. And we’ve ensured that the people who know and love us and understand our wishes are the ones who will articulate those wishes and make medical decisions for us if we are ever unable to do so ourselves during our lifetimes, and so on… We do feel lucky, but we’re also aware that no one ever knows how long her or his luck will hold out. So how about you, do you feel lucky? “Well do ya, punk?”