By our nature, we are good at avoiding the unpleasant. We don’t like to consider our own passing, which is an uncomfortable thing to think about. However, that isn’t enough of a reason to skip out on responsibilities to the next generation.
Way back in the Stone Age, say evolutionary psychologists, we developed our brains and our instinct to survive. That meant avoiding threatening situations and learning how to defend ourselves. Part of our primitive brain still recognizes death as the ultimate threat, and that’s why we procrastinate on planning for our passing.
Insurance News Net’s recent article, “What Human Behavior Tells Us About Estate Planning,” says that when people think of estate planning, they think about death,. Because we’re programmed to secure our survival, thinking about our demise is counterintuitive. With this in mind, you can begin to see why more than half of Americans don’t have essential estate documents in place.
Some say that we have to be able to see and identify it, be motivated to act by pain or some negative stimulus and believe we can do something about it without feeling dumb in the process. However, estate planning hasn’t met any of these criteria. The need for estate planning feels remote, and, therefore, it isn’t visible or painful. Sometimes estate planning can be complicated and overwhelming, which can leave people feeling incapable and inept. The need to create an estate plan also feels chronic—a nagging problem people don’t want to address and want to avoid.
However, in the digital age, estate planning has become about more than just the systematic disposition of assets upon one's death. With bank and email accounts, social media and other digital assets scattered throughout cyberspace, it has become necessary to find a way to connect our assets to us. There’s an immediate upside to spending time on organizing our financial lives: the peace of mind of knowing everything we have is accounted for. It’s intrinsically satisfying when we can bring our assets together under one virtual roof.
With comprehensive planning, we can benefit from being able to monitor every account with ease, giving us a full financial picture at a glance.
In addition, today we can capture stories and memories to create a living, breathing legacy. Remember, your legacy is about more than the money left behind—it’s also about sharing the values and valuables with the right people at the right time.
If you think about legacy planning as an active part of life and family history, the concept of estate planning shifts from one of planning for death to one of planning for the generations that will follow you. Estate planning then becomes a different narrative and something that can be more easily embraced on an emotional level. Think of your legacy as your children’s future—and make an appointment to meet with an estate planning attorney to ensure that your legacy is documented and secured.
Reference: Insurance News Net (May 9, 2019) “What Human Behavior Tells Us About Estate Planning”