Why it matters
A pair of my favorite estate planning clients revisited me this month for an update to their estate planning. I suspect they have our virtual checkups scheduled on their calendar for the same time every year. Like clockwork, they come back every two years on the same month.
One of the benefits of my virtual law office is that all of the contents of the case files are date and time stamped. My clients and I can easily locate the last time we talked and review exactly what we discussed and even access the last version of their documents. It’s nice to have that record to return to. Much like a patient’s medical history, it’s a record of this family’s legal planning for their future. We can pick up from the background we’ve already established.
Unfortunately, most of my clients do not follow up like this couple. I send out reminders to clients that they should consider reevaluating their estate planning every few years, and many will get back in touch, but following through with the full checkup takes longer. Estate planning gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list.
My husband and I are guilty of it ourselves. We make regular checkups for our children at the pediatrician. We schedule dentist appointments for every member of the family. But regular “legal checkups” for estate planning are the easiest to push off into another month.
Why is this? I certainly know the value of reviewing legal documents every few years. There are two reasons I think this may be the case for most of us: 1) The death of ourselves or our loved ones is the last thing healthy people want to think about, and 2) for most people, there is no perceived immediacy. Your child needs to visit the pediatrician for vaccines before being allowed to enter school. Your teeth will be in bad shape and potentially in pain if you don’t have them regularly cleaned. Your death is hopefully a long ways off.
Aside from scheduling your legal estate planning checkup to recur on the calendar each year at the same time, how can you make the process less likely to fall through the cracks?