As I was growing up, my parents subscribed to the daily newspaper, the Fort Collins Coloradoan. I still have some articles clipped from the newspaper that reported on high school basketball games in which I participated. I always read the sports section of the newspaper first, but the comics were the second thing I read. I always liked the “Far Side” by Gary Larson and “Calvin and Hobbes” by Bill Watterson. I think I enjoyed the brand of humor from each comic strip and I found the comics funny – which wasn’t always the case with some other comic strips!
I have seen Calvin from the Calvin and Hobbs comic strip attributed the saying:
I have been put on this earth to do a certain number of things…and I am so far behind that there is no possible way for me to die!
I am sure the quoted saying has been attributed to many different sources over the years, but since I saw it attributed to Calvin, I am going with what he said, and I do wish it were true. If so, the key to eternal life would just be to ignore some key element of what needs to be done, and then we could live forever!
Unfortunately, simply ignoring a key item to do in life does not seem to prevent death.
Instead, if you ignore doing something key in your life, you will simply die without having the most important things done in life. One of the key things to do is to set up an estate plan. Setting up an estate plan doesn’t cause your death, I promise!
Putting off the process of setting up an estate plan can create problems, and you may even run out of time to get an estate plan done. If you set up your estate plan right now, you do run the risk of needing to update it in the future, but that is a much better risk than not having an estate plan set up at all!
Setting Up Your Estate Plan Will Not Cause Your Death
I assure you that setting up an estate plan will not cause your death.
Years ago, I met with a widow who told me about how her husband did not even want to think about dying when he was diagnosed with cancer. Instead, he wanted to only “think positive,” and focus on fighting the cancer. Unfortunately, he lost his battle with cancer, and when he was gone, his widow faced a legal quagmire, and she was not trying to navigate the probate process without any sort of will. I referred her to my friends who handle probate administration and estate administration cases, and I am sure it all was sorted out, but I do know that going through probate without a will is much more trouble, more time consuming, and can be much more frustrating.
I know the person wanted to be positive in his thinking, and I can respect that, but in his case being positive did not prevent his death, and having an estate plan did not cause his death. Instead, the lack of an estate plan caused more difficulties for his wife after he was gone.
Don’t Put Off Your Estate Plan Until the Last Minute
During the COVID 19 pandemic, I received several calls from the family members of people who were in bad shape and about to be put on ventilators in the hospital. The callers asked me to visit the hospital and get a will done for the people who were very likely not to make it out of the hospital. Due to time constraints and previously scheduled appointments, I was not able to accommodate these requests. I am not sure if any of the people who called me were able to get a will done for a loved one, but those who had COVID 19 and were going onto a ventilator were out of time to create an estate plan.
I have been in many hospitals and in many ICUs attempting to get estate plans created and signed. I don’t recommend it. Such estate plans are usually rushed and rushed creation of estate plans can mean something goes unreported to an attorney; so something could be missed, and the estate plan could be incomplete, or possibly incorrect. It is far better to plan ahead and have an estate plan in place, than to be trying to prepare an estate plan at the last minute.
There Are No Bonus Points in an Estate Plan That Does Not Need to be Revised
I know many people who want to be as efficient as possible, so they don’t want to create an estate plan before it is needed. Apparently, they think that if they set up an estate plan too early, they will somehow have failed at maximizing efficiency in setting up an estate plan and will not have wasted any time, effort, or money on an estate plan that needed to be changed or updated in the future. Obviously nobody wants to waste time, money, or effort, but also nobody knows when it will be their time to leave this life.
Playing the guessing game of when to prepare an estate plan close enough to your death that you don’t need to re-do the estate plan prior to your death, but with enough time that you are still competent to sign and complete an estate plan is a fool’s errand. Nobody knows the exact right timing for all of the perfect conditions to be met, so you are far better served to not put off setting up an estate plan. If you set up your estate plan now, you can always change it in the future, but you cannot go back and create an estate plan after you die. Estate planning is, by its very nature, something you need to plan ahead to do.
Create Your Estate Plan Now, Then You Don’t Need to Worry
If you set up your estate plan now, you have everything in place. You don’t need to worry about timing, because you have planned ahead. Certainly you can change what you want to have happen as your life changes, but you will not be playing a game of “chicken” with death. You will be prepared, and you will be able to fully understand the freedom described in the Bobby McFerrin song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!” You will be happy and free from the worry of those who procrastinate setting up their estate plan, because you will already have what you need done!