You may have asked yourself, “What will it cost me if I delay getting my estate planning done? What if I just don’t do it at all?” The costs in terms of money, time, and peace of mind could be huge. Shockingly, 55% of Americans die without estate plans. Why is this? To answer that, let’s turn to bestselling author, Stephen Covey (“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”), who built a quadrant model to discuss how people prioritize things. Per Covey:
- Quadrant 1 activities are urgent and important, such as paying your taxes when they are due. We get them done.
- Quadrant 2 is unique; it concerns activities that are not urgent. Estate planning falls squarely in Quadrant 2.
- Quadrant 3 activities are urgent but not important, such as watching a football game on Sunday night. We tend to respond to the “latest and loudest” so most people do a lot of Quadrant 1 and 3 things.
- Quadrant 4 concerns activities that are neither important nor urgent, such as playing Candy Crush on your phone. Most of us spend far too much time in Quadrant 4 than we’d like to admit!
The more time and energy we devote to Quadrant 2 activities, the richer and better our lives and legacy become. But working in Quadrant 2 requires focus as well as a deep appreciation of what really matters in life. Keep this in mind as we go through the following example.
Consider the case of Rosie. After her sister died, she hired an estate planning lawyer to handle the estate. Rosie was 64 and her sister, Carolyn, was 75 when she died. Carolyn didn’t have a will, or a trust, forcing the estate to be probated.
Rosie saw the cumbersome process to a probate without a will, but she refused to get her own estate plan in order. In fact, she spent 11 years avoiding the work. Why? Because she was estranged from her son, who had left the house when he was a teenager and who had avoided contact with his mother ever since.
As Rosie approached retirement age, she launched a quest to find and reconnect with her son – who at this point was in his 50s. But he still refused to see her. Since he was her only child, Rosie abandoned the idea of estate planning. When she finally passed away, her younger brother, Avis, contacted the same estate planning attorney who worked on Carolyn’s estate long ago. They both assumed Rosie’s estate would be modest, but it turned out to worth over $1.4 million, But probate costs, legal fees, and taxes stripped Rosaline’s estate of much of its value – money that could have been earmarked for a good cause, like a charity or her younger brother’s children’s education.
Estate planning is not just about your comfort level and needs. It’s also about your legacy – about your family, your friends, the causes you believe in, the good work you’ve done on Earth. When you fail to plan, you don’t just hurt yourself – you also, in effect, turn your back on those who need your help.
If you have questions about estate planning and how best to protect your loved ones, call an estate planning attorney, like an Estate Planning Lawyer Belgrade, MT, today.
Thank you to the experts at Silverman Law Office, PLLC, for their insight and expertise in estate planning.