Estate Planning for an Ever-Changing Life

John and Jessica are ready for a long and happy life together as they’re getting married in a few months. They’ve even decided to sit down with an estate planning attorney to talk about the long haul and putting some paperwork in place that expresses their wishes.

Just as they head off to their appointment with the attorney, Jessica turns to John and says, “You know, should we really talk to someone about this right now? After all, we’re going through a big change. Let’s just do this a few months after we get settled. Then we’ll have a plan that matches where we are.”

John agrees. A few months later won’t hurt anything. Of course, a few months stretches into a few years. That’s when John asks his spouse, “Hey, I think we should talk to our attorney about a will.” Jessica responds, “I’m all for it. But look, we’ve got a lot of big changes coming up – what with the baby arriving in six months and then we’re planning on moving into a bigger place. Let’s just wait until things settle down. Then we can have a plan that syncs up with our life at that point in time.”

But when is life ever truly “settled”? It seems like there always will be an impending life change happening. The instinct in people like John and Jessica is to wait until the change occurs so they can address estate planning to match their circumstances, but by the time they get past one event, another change will be on the horizon.

How to Break the Cycle of Fear and Make Estate Planning Real

A common fear of doing estate planning is that if you put plans in place today, those plans will be set in stone or inconsistent with your needs in no time. Instead, remember that life isn’t static and change is going to happen. This is not a reason to choose to do nothing at all.

In fact, it’s when you know there’s a change coming up that you have an incentive to create or update your estate plan accordingly. But a significant life event does not always change the structure of your estate plan, and does not necessarily mean having to start from scratch just to account for the update.

If you carry the assumption that you can’t take action right now, however, that attitude may result in you never taking any kind of action.

Plan. Pivot. Repeat.

At Windy City Legal, we see clients who are going through changes great and small. The big changes can consist of events like a marriage, birth of a child, divorce, or the recent sale of a family business. There’s no doubt that these can change the picture of your estate plan. But remember that we can pivot the plan to face such change when we need to. Change, regardless of the degree of it, is not a reason to hold off on estate planning. Nor is it a reason to hold off on updating as you go.

So rather than pressing the pause button and waiting for some mythical point in time when life “settles down,” seize the moment to tackle estate planning with us now.