You may hear that estate planning is one of those things that many people fail to do. For instance, perhaps you read that most Americans haven’t done any estate planning. You may find yourself wondering how anyone could entirely fail to do something so important.
The key here is in the phrasing. It’s not that people fail to do any estate planning, though it is true that most Americans do not have a plan. It’s just that many of them procrastinate their estate planning and then unexpectedly run out of time to do it.
The impact of procrastination
It’s easy to understand why people put the estate planning process off, and maybe you’ve done the same thing. We all tend to believe that we have a long time to get our affairs in order, and many people wait until it’s clear that that is not true — after they get diagnosed with a serious disease, for instance — to get started.
The impact of a delay on your family can be massive, though. If you put it off for too long and leave them with no plan, things get very complicated and potentially contentious. You may inadvertently start an estate dispute.
Even if you do your estate planning at the last minute, it may be rushed. You may have no time to get feedback from your heirs. You may make mistakes. There could be questions about your realistic ability to plan at this advanced stage in life.
What should you do?
The best thing to do is to start your estate planning as early as you can. As life changes, you can then update the plan accordingly, but there is never a time when you don’t have a plan at all.