Halloween has a fun component – children dressed in costumes, going door to door asking for candy. Halloween can also be considered a scary holiday, one which provides frightening experiences. Halloween decorations sometimes reflect these fears. Halloween decorations can be happy, like pumpkin lights, and happy ghost lights, but can also be frightening, like a Grim Reaper, a large spider, or a 12 foot tall phantom. All of those decorations are at my house, and while none of my Halloween decorations are too spooky, but they are based on some things that can be scary.
My family and I went to a Halloween decoration store a couple of weeks ago, in search of costumes for my children. The store had a lot of Halloween decorations set up, including some that were animatronic. The animatronic spider jumped out at my 13 year old daughter, she jumped back in surprise, and let out a short scream of surprise / fright! I did laugh a bit, telling her “why did you jump? You know it’s not real.”
That earned me a withering look. She told me that it might not be real, but it still scared her. We talked about how she was probably more surprised than truly scared, which she seemed to agree.
She was a bit scared though, and even though she could overcome her fear, she needed to deal with the scary spider. Sometimes I see clients who are scared to set up an estate plan, but they can overcome their fear also.
I see people who fear talking about death, fearing the process of setting up an estate plan, or fear hurting someone’s feelings. Without overcoming these fears, you end up with no estate plan, which can be even scarier!
Fear of Talking About Death and Planning for the Inevitable
I have many people I meet who don’t want to talk about death at all. I am not sure if they are afraid that talking about death will bring death into their lives, or if they just don’t want to contemplate their own mortality and consider the world without them in it. Perhaps some of both views are in play.
I do not see talking about death as terrible, but I also don’t think talking about death will cause it to happen. The concept that if we talk about death, you will then die seems to me like saying that we cannot talk about llamas, or else we will turn into a llama.
I don’t know of anyone who ever turned into a llama just by talking about it. I also don’t know anyone who died just because the person had a conversation about death and / or estate planning. Death is going to happen. You might as well be prepared.
I don’t want to sound macabre, but since you will die, it serves you well to face your fear, get an estate plan done, and then move on – so you don’t need to worry about it any more. This same idea can apply to someone who doesn’t want to think about the world being without them. At some point we will all be gone, so it is better to face that fear and get a plan in place. You can then leave that fear behind you because you have a plan done and don’t need to worry any more on this subject.
Fear of the Process – I Don’t Like to Talk About Things Like This
I will admit I can ask some strange and difficult questions during the estate planning process, like questions concerning a living will. Often, I preface conversations about a living will by saying, “this is going to be a weird question, but do you want to be kept alive on life support if you will just be a vegetable the rest of your life?”
This question throws a lot of people off. They don’t want to think about being on life support, or being in a vegetative state, which is a real fear. I guide people through this tough discussion, which usually only lasts a minute or two. When we come out on the other side I tell them, “OK, now we have discussed that part, so we don’t need to worry about it ever again,” followed by a broad smile.
Since you have an estate planning attorney like me as your guide you have someone on your side to guide you through difficult questions and come out on the other side with answers, without getting stuck in the middle of the process. Instead, we can take the journey together, which is much easier than facing it all alone. I will guide you, and we can face and overcome your fears together. Your fears may be real, but if we face them together, they are much less daunting.
Fear of Hurting Feelings – I Don’t Want Anybody’s Feelings Hurt Because of My Estate Plan
I had a client last week who did not like the draft copies of the estate planning documents I sent to them. The client was concerned that one child would feel like they were loved less because one child was named as an agent under the financial power of attorney, which another was named an agent under the medical power of attorney, and someone else was personal representative in the will. The client was concerned that picking just one showed favoritism and someone’s feelings would get hurt. I do understand that hurt feelings can lead to people contesting a will, but in this case, the fear was more about the children’s feelings.
We had a laughing conversation about how the kids left off of the documents should feel relieved because they would still get property at death, but not have to do any of the work. We also talked about how the order simply put one person in the final decision making category, so that there were not going to be bitter disputes among multiple decision makers.
I also reminded them that if they really wanted their family to be upset, with hurt feelings, they should not create any estate plan, and see how that goes. As a hint: not having an estate plan leaves everything in chaos and creates many issues that are solved by an estate plan.
Setting up an estate plan solves more problems than it creates, so you can overcome your fear of hurting feelings by setting up an estate plan that works for you and your family.
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Overcome Your Fears by Using a Good Guide
By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you have help overcoming your fears. You can discuss difficult topics, work through your fears, and emerge with your fears addressed. Then, you can ignore the fears, as you have already planned for them. The fears may be real, but just like my daughter overcame her fear of the jumping spider Halloween decoration, you can overcome your fears and be ready for the future. You can start overcoming your fears by making an appointment here.