How to Stop Gambling with Your Estate

Okay, so you don’t go to casinos. But you can still lose a ton of money.

It’s easy if you don’t have an estate plan. You can squander your money on taxes, lawyers and court cases.

You don’t have to gamble with your financial future. I’ll explain how you can avoid estate gambling risks to keep more of your money.

Failing to plan your estate makes you a gambler. What kind of estate gambler are you? Do you put everything on the line and roll the dice? Here are some examples of what estate gamblers do.

Estate Gamblers Play the Odds

You figured out most people your age don’t die. So, what’s the hurry? You are too young to worry about an estate plan. You will ride the wave. After all, you’ve been lucky so far.

Nobody you know that has died has had estate problems. Well, most people who have estate problems don’t go around bragging about family mistakes that got them into trouble.

Are you betting all your relatives will get along after you are gone? Will everybody follow your wishes? Will your spouse and children never have to worry if you are out of the picture?

Without a will, your wishes are not legally binding. Everyone will not necessarily agree to what has to be done and when. This means they all get lawyers to go to court and argue over your estate.

When you make a will, you name an executor to be the boss. The best bet you can make is to have a current will. Otherwise, your relatives will all hire lawyers to figure out how to divide your estate.

Estate Gamblers Do Nothing

Too many choices can lead to paralysis. So, you do nothing.

Get advice instead of doing nothing. It is not a weakness to admit you need help. Millionaire or not, everyone needs help to make the key money decisions.

If you are not sure how to make an estate plan, take small steps. Attend a local free seminar. Ask your banker or financial advisor to recommend an estate planning lawyer. Work with your partner to set goals and make decisions.

Estate Gamblers Do Not Invest in Advice

Do-it-yourself wills are the easiest way to make a mistake. You do not know what troubles lie ahead.

Can you find everything you need online?

Every jurisdiction, state and province has different taxes and laws. What you read in online legal forums may identify issues for concern. However, who guarantees such information is correct? These sources may be wrong or inappropriate for you. They are no substitute for proper advice.

Court cases flood lawyers every day with decisions that affect married couples, common law partners, people inheriting businesses and those with cross-border estates.

Even estate experts have difficulty keeping up with all the changes in estate law. What chance do you have to get everything you need by doing it yourself?

Estate Gamblers are Afraid to Make Mistakes

People who are afraid of making mistakes can procrastinate. But remember that no estate plan is risk-free. Things constantly change and so should your estate plan. What worked before you had a house, a business or children will need adjusting. You need to start somewhere and revisit it.

Discover what your estate planning options are. Read a simple guide like my easy-to-understand Estate to the Heart: How to Plan Wills and Estates for Your Loved Ones.

Laws change every day. Life gets complex. Know your limits and invest in a properly-prepared professional estate plan.

Make sure you have a will and powers of attorney. Will they work in every jurisdiction where you have substantial assets?

Estate Gamblers Don’t Review their Decisions

Estate tax laws change constantly. You need to stop being afraid of making changes. Your children marry, get divorced and have children of their own. All these events mean you need to review your estate plan.

Do you care about your family, loved ones and charitable causes? Doing nothing is the surest way to fail. Having an out-of-date estate plan is a close second cause of financial failure.

Understand that You Cannot Do This Alone

Take small steps. Get professional advice.

Think you don’t have enough money to fight over? Don’t make that mistake. It costs 10 times more to handle you affairs without a will. Without a plan you will pay the most in taxes. Everything is more expensive when you are not here to protect your money.

Look into getting a power of attorney. This puts someone in charge of your finances if, for example, you are too ill to pay your bills. While you are looking into your powers of attorney, ask your parents if they have powers of attorney. Find out if the documents are up to date and where you can find them if you need them.

Most people will need a separate power of attorney for property and one for health care decisions.

Make your will. Make sure you have the right executor. Will your executors be able to find your will? Stop gambling and tell them.

Get more estate planning solutions in my post, Easy to Use Estate Planning Solutions.

Edward Olkovich (BA, LLB, TEP, C.S.) is a nationally recognized estate expert. He is a Toronto estate lawyer and Certified Specialist in Estates and Trusts Law. Edward has practiced law since 1978 and has written numerous estate books. Visit his blog,, for more free valuable information.