This article is about the essential importance for men to be responsible and create an estate plan, even if it’s just a Will and related, bare essentials to take care of business before it’s too late. My comments are for anyone who has created wealth with the hope more of us will get off their butts and put in place a proper estate plan, before it’s too late.
It may seem I’m picking on men, but I notice men tend to procrastinate on their estate plans. It’s my opinion based on direct experience working as a financial consultant, and my immediate family and friends. Yes, it’s true there are women who also stick their heads in the sand when it comes to estate planning. But I’m isolating men in this post because I am one and I know how I can “get in my own way” at times. Ego, not always my amigo.
Who Do You Know Who Waited Too Long?
Have you ever known a man who had created a decent amount of wealth through his profession or business, but wouldn’t or couldn’t bring himself to formalize his estate plan? In other words, he was too busy to put his estate plan in writing. Ideally, he would do so working with a qualified attorney who specializes in estate planning. But I suppose it’s possible to create a simple estate plan with low or no cost to an attorney.
How can we be “too busy” to take care of our estate plans, especially when there is considerable wealth involved? I have met plenty of these people who have wealth, but wait. It makes no sense.
I’m not perfect and it’s true that my estate plan right now needs a massive update. The last time we created our Living Trust and related estate planning documents was when our kids were really young. Now they’re grown and out on their own loving their lives. So it’s time for me to get off his butt, find a new attorney and update the entire estate plan with my wife. I walk the walk if I hammer on my blog.
My humble opinion is being “too busy” to create a suitable estate plan is simply stupid, selfish and non sensical. This is especially true if we truly love and care for our families, charities and yes, cats, perhaps. However, being too busy is really hazardous to family wealth, especially when there are millions or billions of dollars at stake.
Want proof that none of us are immune to blowing it when it comes to estate planning, even the rich and famous? Fortune magazine published this article listing 17 really rich, famous men who died without an estate plan. In legal terms, they died intestate, like millions of other people each year. This is known as Intestacy. And it can get messy, fast, for everyone, except the person who has moved on.
- Abraham Lincoln.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Jimi Hendrix
- Pablo Picasso
- Howard Hughes
- Bob Marley
- Kurt Cobain
- Tupac Shakur
- Salvatore Phillip “Sonny” Bono
- Barry White
- Stieg Larsson (Famous author)
- James Brown
- Steve McNair
- Nate Dogg
- Amy Winehouse
- Michael Jackson
Why is it these men and millions of others tend to procrastinate when it comes to crafting a solid estate plan? There are lots of reasons, but mostly it’s ego or fear, most of the time.
It happens to normal people, too. I remember trying to get my father to talk about his estate plan. It was akin to getting him to buy me a dirt bike when I was 13 and my best buddies were riding their hearts out. Every time I asked dad about his estate plan, and there were many times, he would say, “I’m working on it.” Our family knew this really meant, “Don’t bug me!” So I’d back off before dad would get “grumpy” with me. Then I’d do my best to punish him on the golf course and win that dollar Nassau game we always played. (Dad passed away in June of 2014 and I love and miss him dearly. He is my hero.) He has a simple estate plan in place for his surviving wife.
Look, talking about death isn’t fun. Yet, we all know it’s coming and in our culture for some reason, we don’t embrace death as other cultures do. Death, to me, is a right of passage. The men I know with the strongest faith taught me what we can anticipate in the next life, even though none of us truly have a clue. We simply believe, or not!
Working On The Front Line
When I worked as a licensed financial adviser between 1991 and 2003, getting men to develop a plan for their estate was absolutely maddening. But the consequences of not having an estate plan, to die intestate, can be costly and emotionally devastating to the family. How many men have croaked of a sudden heart attack, or any sudden death and on the way to the afterlife they’re thinking, “Crap. I should have listened to my son, or my financial consultant, my attorney, my amazing wife?” I imagine they get to the pearly gates and God is there saying, “Joe, what were you thinking?”
Not me. I’m not going to leave my family hanging. No way. My family is everything to me. Why would I ever think I’m too busy to get the estate plan done? Oh yeah, I’m a man. And I’m busy! But not too busy to get this stuff done.
Maybe you know or live with someone who’s procrastinating on their estate plan. What will you do to motivate them to get the job done by a professional so you don’t have to worry about having enough money to live, invest, travel, pay for healthcare, give to the charities of your choice? Whatever it is, especially if you’re married to the guy, get him off his butt as soon as humanly possible or cut him off from his favorite doggie treat. I mean it. There is NO, acceptable excuse for us to ignore this obligation, especially super-successful men with family, extended family and wealth.
Estate planning is a massive responsibility we have to the people and causes we love the most. Even if you need a basic estate plan including a Will, go get it done! Don’t wait until that lightning bolt takes you out and you’re wondering how you had time to play golf, but not finish your estate plan. It’s about having a heart for others, especially the people you love and who love you back.
Got a question or need a referral to trusted advisors who may be able to help you with taxes, legal and other financial issues? Leave a comment or connect with me by completing the contact us form on this page.