The idea of planning is to stay one step ahead of split-second decisions and crisis troubles, but there are still 10 top reasons people avoid an estate plan, despite the fact it’s a homecare mistake.   A group of financial planners, retirement planners and fiduciaries sat down to discuss the most common reasons families avoid dealing with estate plans, and how to overcome those avoidance issues. 

For this purpose, an estate plan is essentially a will and a trust, long term care insurance if needed, a power of attorney, power of health care directive and a Polst or DNR form.

Denial came up as #1 to avoid estate planning.   Few younger people want to face the idea that they could be here one day, gone tomorrow, whether due to accident or illness.  Older individuals tend to be better prepared, but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to talk about their end of life wishes, such as how much medical intervention they desire and when to access in-home care or assisted living options.

The #2 reason is families think they don’t have enough assets for an estate plan, but everyone needs an advance directive regardless of financial status. 

The #3 reason to avoid an estate plan is procrastination.  It’s this idea that we know we need an estate plan, and we’re going to get to it as soon as we can.  Problem is, this lack of a firm timeline makes it possible to just continually kick the can down the road.

Reason #4 Many people don’t know how to start an estate plan, so they simply don’t start one.  A good place to start is with a financial planner or trust attorney.  There are also online resources that can help with basic preparations.   Even a simple hand written will is better than none at all.

The #5 reason to avoid a trust is conflict.  Many families end up arguing when financial or end of life issues are brought up.  

Many people live in “survival” mode, which is reason #6 to not face the little, but important details such as estate planning.  If someone is concerned about job security, pandemics, politics, lack of food or the high cost of college, they might think estate planning is unimportant. 

The #7 reason to avoid an estate plan is that people don’t understand the need.  Many people think that their assets will simply pass to the heirs of their choosing without considering squabbles, tax implications, the cost of probate court and any number of problems they can’t foresee.

Especially for those experiencing loss or health issues, depression may be a reason to avoid an estate plan.  That is reason #8.  When someone is experiencing emotional pain, it’s hard to care about what may happen in the future. 

Cohabitation is another reason people may feel uncomfortable making big decisions about their estate, which is reason #9 to avoid an estate plan.  Blended families, later in life marriages and multiple stepchildren and biological children can lead to conflict over wills and trusts.

Cost is the #10 reason to avoid an estate plan, as many people don’t realize plans can be worked out for a couple hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars, depending on the assets, the complexity and the amount of detail needed. 

But having an estate plan is an essential part of planning for your whole life care, including making sure you have a simple will and advance directive at age 18, then considering adding a trust as your assets grow, if you get married, having children, etc.  Once your plan is created, review it at least every five years to make sure your wishes and circumstances have not changed. 

Every in home care client is asked for advance directives, if they have a polst, and who is their power of attorney for finances and health care.  It’s important those decisions are made earlier in life, when someone maintains full mental capacity.  Those are not decisions best met in the middle of a health crisis or when the client can no longer speak for him/herself.