Estate Planning

Estate Planning

  • Jodie Leister LPCC-S; Counselor, Ohio State Employee Assistance Program
  • August, 2018
  • Financial Wellness
Planning is a priority, no matter the quantity of assets you have.

Have you ever heard the saying “the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes”?  The fact of the matter is that all good things must come to an end, and they will, whether we are prepared for them or not.   No one likes to think about death, let alone the pain associated with the loss of our own life or the loss of those we love.  For some individuals, the fear associated with death is so strong that it hinders them from adequately preparing for the inevitable.  They may then end up leaving those in their lives to fumble through things like estate management, wills, business planning, and financial stress during the time in their lives they are least able emotionally to do so.  
It is important to make estate planning a priority no matter the quantity of assets you may have.  Below are some common reasons individuals choose to put off planning and the reasons why they shouldn’t fall into that trap.
1. They are intimidated by the process.  Estate planning does not have to be intimidating—you just need to know what to expect. Most attorneys will have you fill out a questionnaire that lists your assets and liabilities. It’s pretty simple and takes about two to four hours in total depending on the individual.
2. Not sure who to appoint as personal representative, agent under a power of attorney or health care surrogate. Certainly, these can be tough decisions, but that’s not a good reason to procrastinate. If you do not have family member you can trust, look to your friends, a pastor, a bank representative, a trust company, or even your own attorney.
3. You’re too young. Accidents and illness happen every day.  Planning for the future doesn’t make bad things happen, but it does protect you and your family if they do. 
4. The cost is too expensive. The cost of your estate planning really depends on what area of the country you live in and whether you choose to have an attorney prepare the documents. You could “do it yourself” by purchasing software or buying forms from your local office supply store. However, if you have a complicated situation, it might be smarter to utilize the services of an attorney.  The OSU EAP has resources that are there to help you. 
5. Low number of assets.  Even if you do not have much materially, it would be wise to to appoint someone who can deal with your finances and health care decisions should you be unable to do so.  Upon your death, if no one has been appointed, your assets will go to Probate Court and the decisions will be made for your family by the Court which can lead to a loss of assets and not taking care of loved ones (at least in the way you would have wanted that happen). 
6. Lack of time. Most people have busy lives, but they shouldn’t let this be an excuse for avoiding the end-of-life planning process. There are certain tasks you must prioritize, and making your will is one of them. Set aside the time to get it done — if you procrastinate too long, you might not get the chance.
If you have been avoiding this conversation with family or are having trouble with helping others in your life with this process, take action.  The EAP has many resources that can help to educate and reduce the stress associate with end-of-life planning.  We will all leave this place some time, so why not take care of those you love in the process?
To learn more about estate planning, including information on different types of wills and powers of attorney, view the archived webinar Estate Planning Essentials.

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