If you do not yet have an estate plan, you should make 2014 your year to create one. Whether you are a young adult, senior citizen, or anyone in between, you absolutely need an estate plan in place. Having the right plan will not only give you peace of mind, but will afford you and your family significant protections.
Yet making a resolution is much different than actually sticking to it. Millions of Americans make resolutions every year to lose weight, save more money, or any number of other goals and never compete them. Fortunately, behavioral researchers have shed a lot of light on what it takes to set a goal, stick to it, and accomplish it. Here are a pair of practical tips you can use to make sure that 2014 is your year to create an estate plan.
Tip 1. Use social pressure to your advantage.
All of us are social beings who need to feel the sense that we are part of society and are accepted by others. Part of this pressure comes from complying with societal norms. Fortunately, you can use this pressure to your advantage if you want to create an estate plan.
When you make any kind of resolution, using positive social pressure to get you to act can be a tremendous benefit. Announcing your plan to, for example, create an estate plan is much different than simply telling yourself you’ll do it. What’s more, having others join you in the endeavor is even better. If you and a few of your friends, colleagues, or family members decide to create an estate plan together, you will all push each other towards completing a task. You will also have the opportunity to discuss what each of you are experiencing, ask each other questions, and have a set of people you can go to for help should you encounter difficulties.
Tip 2. Set firm estate planning dates.
Giving yourself a grand goal, such as writing a book, or climbing a mountain, is much different than giving yourself a smaller goal, such as developing 10 ideas for a book or learning how to tie knots. Similarly, giving yourself a firm deadline is much different than setting a goal that has no clear time frame.
If you’ve resolved to create an estate plan in 2014, you can start very simply by giving yourself a firm deadline. You can also give yourself some simple, individual steps that are much easier to accomplish than the broad goal of creating a plan.
For example, you can set a simple goal of scheduling a meeting with an experienced and qualified estate planning lawyer by March 1st. After your meeting, you can use your attorney’s advice to create a to-do list that you can use to keep track of your progress as you complete individual steps.
A word of caution: Protecting your loved ones and your future is not something that should be done on the cheap. As with most things in life, with estate planning, you will typically get what you pay for. There are far too many cut rate planning options out there that, in the end, will cause your family dearly when their errors and omissions are finally exposed.