This weekend Lake County News published an interesting story noting how so many community members spend more time planning their summer vacation than their inheritance and long-term issues. Think about it: how many different contingencies are accounted for when heading away from home for a one to two week trip? Pet sitters are hired, mail is paused, email auto-responders are set-up, plants are moved inside and friends are asked to water them, doors are locked, and a spare key is left under the mat in case of emergency. We take these steps just in case, so that we can enjoy our time away with the peace of mind that everything back home can be dealt with in most situations.
In many ways New York estate planning involves the same forethought–understanding possible issues down the road and taking steps to account for those contingencies. Yet, vacation planning is done instinctively while estate plans are often delayed or ignored.
Considering the importance that this planning has for one’s future well-being and that of family members, it is sometime illogical for New York elder law estate planning to be ignored by prudent local residents. What gives?
For one thing, it is easy to procrastinate on these sorts of issues without immediate compulsion. Summer vacation planning has to be done by a known date. Estate planning is not that easy, because no one knows for sure how much time they have or if (and when) they may need long-term care. The indefinite future makes it easier to procrastinate.
Yet, planning is vastly more effective when conducted before emergency necessitates it. That does even account for the peace of mind that comes with knowing inheritance and plans are in place.
Many also put off the planning because they assume that the planning is complex and time-consuming. Planning will be done when they finally “have time” for it. It goes without saying that time will never magically appear; instead one simply has to make time to do things that matter.
But beyond that, the planning itself does not necessarily have to be as complex or time-consuming as one imagines. After all, the whole point of having professional help with these issues is to hand of the work to those who deal with these matters day in and day out. In most cases, a legal professional will explain how a trust can be created–depending on the size of your estate–and other documents put into place, including a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy. Even if nothing more complex is required, having these few pieces in place can make all the difference in case something happens unexpectedly.
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