My first day in the office of 2013, I met with Susan (not her real name) to discuss her estate planning. Our meeting went very well — she had come fully prepared, had a clear idea of her estate planning goals, and had many thoughtful questions. When we were scheduling her next appointment with me to discuss and sign her Wills and Powers of Attorney, she was literally beaming and looking quite pleased with herself. I asked her the reason for her obvious happiness and she smiled and said, “You know, despite a lifetime of failed New Year`s resolutions, getting my Will done is the first one that I’ve actually followed through on and it feels darn good”.
This got me to thinking about New Year`s resolutions in general and I couldn’t help but do a little googling. As it turns out, it is estimated that approximately ½ of us make New Year`s resolutions of some kind or another. Among the most popular are losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising, and getting rid of debt.
But how many of us actually keep our resolutions? A 2007 study involving 3000 people found that 88% of the participants who had made New Year`s resolutions failed to keep them. This occurred despite the fact that 52% of the participants were confident of their success in the beginning.
I couldn’t help but wonder why the failure rate was so high. Some psychologists say that it is because most people simply set unrealistic goals. The key they say is setting specific and realistic goals and achieving these goals through a series of small steps. Susan was definitely on to something. Doing your estate planning is the perfect New Year’s resolution. It is specific and best achieved when broken down into several steps including:
- Doing your research and selecting an estate planning professional that can help you.
- Collecting your asset information, setting out any questions that you want answered and starting to think about how you want to provide for your loved ones once you are gone.
- Meeting with your chosen professional to discuss your estate planning.
- Signing the appropriate documents such as a Will and Powers of Attorney.
So, if you want 2013 to be the year you make one of your resolutions come true, put your estate planning at the top of your list!
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