Estate Planning Blues

Why don’t people get wills and powers of attorney in place?  We know it’s the right thing to do for our families, yet it seems so hard to get started.  And finish!  Here with some ideas is guest blogger Jennifer Gordon, partner at Hawkins Goddard Attorneys at Law.


KS:  What are the top three reasons people do not put an estate plan in place?

JG: There are three factors that most often cause people to delay the implementation of their estate plan. The first is, of course, the emotional strain of thinking about your own death. Many people just don’t want to address the reality of their own mortality. The second reason stems from a more practical concern about who to name as a fiduciary in their documents. Some people don’t want to burden their friends and family, so they don’t want to ask the people in their lives to take on these roles. Other individuals worry about conflict and family dynamics, so they avoid making decisions. Finally, there is always the time component. It is easy to procrastinate on getting your documents in order – it is something that you can readily move down your priority list.


KS:  How does your firm make the process more approachable to overcome these powerful emotional barriers?

JG:  Knowing that all three of these factors are inherent in estate planning, we have a number of strategies to assist our clients. The first philosophy that we have embraced since the founding of our firm in 1987 is that we try to move quickly. We schedule appointments within a week or two of the initial client call, send documents to review within two weeks, and bring clients in to sign typically a week later. Our feeling is that we want the discussions and decisions to be fresh in our clients’ minds as they review their documents. Additionally, we feel that if you have finally made the call, you want to complete the process quickly and cross estate planning off your to do list.

The other way we address the emotional barriers for our clients is that we focus on not only the benefits to you as the client of having your estate planning in place, but also the benefits to your family. Having your estate planning prepared and having your asset information organized makes a huge difference for your family members when they are faced with administering your estate after your death.


KS:  What are the rewards of getting your will/trust/powers of attorney done?

JG:  The rewards of having an estate plan in place are twofold. The first reward is knowing that if you are incapacitated you have people who are in a position to assist you. Second, is the knowledge that you have reviewed the tax implications as well as the other issues that arise at your death and you have positioned your family in the best way possible to deal with the practicalities of the death of a loved one and be able to instead focus on the emotional needs of your loved ones.


KS:  Thank you, Jennifer, for taking the time to answer my questions! Jennifer Gordon is a partner at Hawkins Gordon law firm. Jennifer focuses her practice entirely in the area of estate planning, estate and trust administration, and estate and gift tax planning. Learn more at



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