Legacy Planning – Procrastination by Greg Hammond
It is one thing to feel that freedom, however, and another to take action. Though convinced they should take their plan to the next level, create a legacy, and make an impact by possibly engaging in philanthropy, people procrastinate for a host of reasons. And they aren’t necessarily conscious that they are doing so.
The biggest reason to procrastinate is our sense of mortality. As noble as a cause may be, the thought of leaving your money leads to the thought of dying. It can seem like planning for one’s own demise – not the most comfortable of feelings. Rather than face that truth, people tend to find a whole lot of other things they can do.
And frankly, people procrastinate out of a fear they will discover that their pile of money just isn’t big enough after all. They lack a clear understanding of their own finances or don’t access the professional guidance that would help them gain it. Will there be enough money to live on for the rest of their lives? Will there be anything left for the kids? Will they have the resources to face an emergency or an illness? They just don’t know. As a result, they’re reluctant to take a closer look. So they put their heads in the sand in a misbegotten effort to avoid the threats that very well might not be there at all.
Insecurity also plays a role. Revealing your finances can feel like being stripped of your clothes. Will everyone see the woeful state of your planning? It is the reason that many people avoid their annual physicals. Everything’s out there in the open, and what if the doctor has some stern words for you? Often, the doctor has reassuring words – and such may well be the case for those who seek out advice on whether they can engage in life and legacy planning and philanthropy.
In some families, such planning raises the specter of unresolved family issues. It can be painful, in such cases, to broach the subject of whether to leave money to the children or how much. How is it to be done fairly? There may be concerns about the stability of relationships and marriages and the status of stepchildren.
Many families today are dysfunctional, unable to work through their problems and communicate well – and so there’s a tendency to let sleeping dogs lie. But if there is a compelling reason to steer money away from a particular individual in the family, good planning is crucial. He or she may benefit from your procrastination. How much better would it be to leave money to a worthy person or cause?
Sometimes though, people just get caught up in their day-to-day living. They appreciate the concept of creating a legacy and making an impact, but it plays no immediate role in getting through a day. Legacy and philanthropy can, for some, seem to be all about the future and about others – it doesn’t seem to affect how well they are faring in the here and now. It’s just more details to manage, and there’s no sense of urgency. That is a limited perspective, of course. Proper planning in this arena most certainly can enhance your lifestyle – not to mention the lifestyles of many others. But it might not seem that way, and so it is easy to put off.
What awakens the need to take action? It could be the death of a loved one, leading you to reflect on what that person would have wanted – and what you really want. It could be a job loss, or an illness. At some point, whatever it is, your impact and your legacy become more of an imperative than just a load of administrative details. Something in life becomes the game changer that makes you think deeply about what matters most to you and to those around you.
-excerpt from chapter 4
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Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA is a wealth impact strategist who works with individuals, families, closely‐held and family‐owned businesses, helping them grow and preserve wealth, plan for retirement and manage their charitable giving. You can reach Greg at 1-800-416-1655 or email@example.com for financially intelligent guidance or a Wealth Impact Assessment to show how you can build a legacy of your values, influence, and money without sacrificing your own lifetime goals and objectives.