When it comes to money, you know there are Haves and Have-nots. Here’s something that may surprise you: when it comes to estate planning, it does not matter how much stuff you have. I have learned you can fall into a different category.
When it comes to helping your loved ones, which category do you fall into?
Are you a ‘Have’?
Many people think, “I have no money or wealth to worry about. Estate planning is not for me.”
These ‘haves’ tell me they’ve had enough – enough information about their rights and obligations. They have an aversion to talking about death. They tell me, “It’s so negative and depressing, Ed. Let’s talk about something else”.
Well, I say, “Estate planning is what you do for the people you leave behind. You really do it for them. You want whatever you have to go to your loved ones. You don’t want it to be wasted on lawyers’ fees. Do you really want to pay more taxes than you need to?”
They respond like this:
- I ‘have’ nothing to fight over when I go.
- Who cares about all this when I am gone? The laws dealing with property, trusts, estates, wills, income taxes and family law will not ‘have’ anything to do with me.
- My family is not dysfunctional. I ‘have’ no problems in my family. Everyone does what is expected of them.
- Please prepare a simple will for me. ‘Have’ it ready for me to sign tomorrow. I’m leaving the country on holiday right after I sign it. Otherwise, I’ll find a sample will online. It’s all the same to me.
- I ‘have’ to sign a will and powers of attorney right now, I cannot wait. I don’t understand why I cannot get what I want. What is the matter with lawyers, anyway? You want to know too much about me when I ‘have’ nothing.
Are you a ‘Have-not’?
Seems Have-nots always need more information. They have not made a decision about a guardian for their minor children. Sure, their children are not teenagers yet. They think they have plenty of time left.
The Have-nots see no reason to rush their decisions. They are perfectionists. They wish to have all the information necessary (without going to law school). They do not trust anyone to make their financial decisions for them. They ‘have not’ developed any trusting relationship with a lawyer or financial advisor. They will go back to your website over and over again looking for more free information. They ‘have not’ yet finished researching. They keep skimming websites that may not be applicable or appropriate for them.
They search online for answers to questions like:
- My son lives in Hong Kong. What are the income tax consequences under those laws if he inherits?
- What if my son divorces his spouse in Hong Kong? Will she be entitled to a share of his inheritance?
- Will my son have to pay income tax on executor’s fees in Canada and Hong Kong?
Have-nots can’t make a decision until all these questions are answered. The trouble is it is stopping them from protecting their loved ones from a disaster.
So, are you a Have or a Have-not?
You don’t want to become a desperate estate planner, either. I tell you all about those in the next post.
You may also enjoy reading Estate to the Heart: How to Plan Wills and Estates for Your Loved Ones. This book is only available via my website www.MrWills.com.
Edward Olkovich (BA, LLB, TEP, and C.S.) is an Ontario lawyer, nationally recognized author and estate expert. He is a Toronto based Certified Specialist in Estates and Trusts. Edward has practiced law since 1978 and is the author of Executor Kung Fu: Master Any Estates in Three Easy Steps. © 2014