Estate Planning: Expectations vs. Reality

Estate Planning: Expectations vs. Reality

You know that moment when you have everything for your morning meeting planned out in your head and everything goes perfect, everything you’ve worked so hard for plays out exactly as you expected it too? That little thing, that’s our expectation. Now, you know that moment when you spill coffee all over your shirt on the way to your very big meeting? That’s reality. And the reality of it is, it doesn’t matter if it’s about work, life, family, friends, or all the inbetween, we always have expectations, and we always have reality. Estate planning is no different, so let’s go through your expectations for estate planning vs. the reality. It’s time to face the cold hard truths. 

Expectation vs. Reality: Estate planning is a long and arduous process 

We all expect the estate planning process to be a long and arduous process. Just thinking about all the effort it takes is one of many barriers people have to overcome (mentally) when it comes to creating an estate plan. While we understand why it may seem like an estate plan isn’t worth the effort, the reality of it is, you’re not doing the hard work, your lawyer is! 

Don’t let the expectations scare you off from reality. Sometimes, the reality can be better than your expectations! Crazy, we know, but it’s true. 

Expectation vs. Reality: I know exactly how my estate plan will look

Child with blue sky and stars coming out of his hand as the moon illuminates light

Remember when you were a kid and you would stay up late at night dreaming about all that the world had to offer? Thinking about where you wanted to go to college, what you wanted to do with your life; we always think we know how our life is going to happen. Then something funny happens, it’s called life, and it often throws us off the course we thought we would have in life. Our expectations are different from reality. 

Creating an estate plan is no different. You will likely come in thinking you know exactly what will be in your estate plan, how it will be created, but the reality is, most likely your estate plan won’t look anything like you think it will. 

Expectation vs. Reality: I have to have everything dialed in for my estate plan! 

People often feel overwhelmed thinking about all the details one would want to include in an estate plan, it’s hard not to want to think about every little thing. We’re exhausted just thinking about trying to establish a different person for every item we want to include in our estate plan. 

We all expect to need all the details at the time of the estate plan, that is a huge part of any plan isn’t it? The reality of it is, you can always update your estate plan at any time once you have details dialed in, or as life progresses. It’s also okay not to have someone for everything. While you can have a list of specific items to give to people, you can also just leave your estate to one person and let them deal with figuring out who gets what. 

Expectation vs. Reality: I had an estate plan done 5, 10, 15+ years ago so everything is taken care of

Many people who already have estate plans think that since they’ve already created one that there’s no reason one needs to update it! That is news to us. Would you build a home 5, 10, 15+ years ago without doing any updates or maintenance to your home? Probably not! A lot can change in our lives (and homes) and it’s important that our estate plan reflects that. 

Have you ever heard from a friend or family member about someone inheriting something that shocked everyone? It could be that was the intended point but the reality of it is, that’s what happens when people don’t update their estate plans. 

As life changes – children, grandchildren, marriage(s), divorce(s), deaths, new houses, new toys, etc. — you need to update your estate plan so it reflects your current wishes. Relationships change, life change, and your estate plan should evolve with all of life’s challenges. 

Expectation vs. Reality: Updating your estate plan is confusing so why bother. 

A lot of us expect estate planning to be confusing so we give up before we even begin, but the reality is, if you’re hiring a lawyer who specializes in estate planning, you’re hiring an expert! 

Hiring an expert ensures that your attorney can present the documents in a way that is easy for you to understand! They are there to help answer any questions you may have about your estate plan or the process. As lawyers, we are here to help you every step of the way. 

Expectation vs. Reality: Distribution of assets is done this way or the highway. 

A lot of us expect distribution of assets to be done a certain way, and this is often a barrier of entry to people who have complicated families and assets. The reality of it is, you are the controller of how you want your assets to be distributed. 

Distribution of assets could look like: 

  • The house goes to X
  • The stocks go to Y
  • or it could say 50% to X and 50% to Y

Expectations of estate plans almost all consist of people expecting it to be a certain way, thinking most things are more complicated, time consuming, or expensive than they are. There is no better way to protect your assets for you and your family than by creating an estate plan. Be in control of your family legacy by creating an estate plan today. 

Have questions? Need help? Jessica Henman, Attorney at Law, is here to help! 

Jessica Henman, Attorney at Law, is based in Chico, California (born and raised in fact) and is here to help out anyone in California. For more assistance and custom estate plans give me a call at (530) 520-3109 or email me to set-up a time to talk about getting the right estate plan, trust, wills, and other documents for your family. Whether you’re a family with young kids or a family with grown ones, I can help you every step of the way. 

I look forward to connecting with you! I’m here to help answer any questions you may have regarding estate planning. Plan for the unexpected today!

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