He Waits for the Muse
DeLoss McGraw (American, born 1945)
People confess to me that they don’t have a will and they keep putting it off, often a look of guilt in their eyes. Why, if we feel guilty, do we wait so long? Sometimes 30 years after having children or even until we our on our deathbeds?
1. We don’t want to think about our deaths.
We all die. Everyone. When we plan for our deaths, we’re facing the reality that our lives will end, which for many is a morbid and scary thought. As I hear these confessions, I try to assure the speaker that what they’ve done or not done is very common and instead of feeling guilty, I’d like to help them just get it done!
2. Estate Planning sounds grand and complicated.
True, for some people, we have a more complex family or financial situation that requires more time and therefore more money. I measure the work I do and the cost of services in terms of the time spent, which allows me to charge less for simpler estates and accurately charge for greater complexity. But estate planning is simply creating a plan and written documents to make that plan binding under the law. You decide what happens with your money or property, but we also think through how your gifts to the next generation will affect them.
We consider things like:
- Age of the beneficiary. Is this person a child who will need a trusted adult to manage the property until the child reaches a responsible age.
- Behavioral concerns. Does the beneficiary have any addictions that will be made worse by a financial gift?
- Special Needs. Does the beneficiary have any special needs to consider like qualifications for governmental assistance that a financial gift might jeopardize?
- Taxes. Is the total of your assets–real estate, cash, investments, retirement, insurance, etc.–enough to trigger federal estate taxes?
3. This will take forever.
We offer emergency services where, as long as the client has the capacity to write and sign a will (determined by Texas law), we can meet, write up documents, and sign them sometimes within hours. Emergency work is emotionally draining on everyone involved because my client is often facing imminent death.
Non-emergency services take only a few weeks. Some clients are done within a month, some take several months to finish. I ask how often you want me to check in with you so that we work at your pace without letting you procrastinate.
We start with an hour in a consultation talking through what you want done and how best to do it. Next I write up your documents based on that conversation, which takes about 7-10 business days. Once you are comfortable with what the documents say, we meet a second time for approximately 45 minutes to sign them. Some clients want an appointment between the consultation and the will signing to review the draft documents, but most prefer to email questions or edits.
This is not a mystical or mysterious process; you are preparing a gift for your family of incredible importance. My job is to remove the fear factor so that you walk out with your documents in hand feeling relieved, satisfied, and empowered.