February is the time of love and the harbinger of spring. The grass begins to turn green; the tree buds are starting to form; and the birds are beginning to return. This may be the best time of year to engage in the process of estate planning. I have some observations about why:
1. New Year’s Resolutions are Ready to Fulfill On. Many people make a New Year’s resolution to get their estate planning done. It may take a few weeks to make some decisions, investigate what attorney you’ll use, and start getting your financial picture in focus. February and March seem to be the time when people are really ready to get down to business.
2. There is an energy of spring that can be harnessed to carry one’s efforts forward. As the earth begins to germinate new plants, so too do we begin a process of coming out of hibernation. Springtime is a good time for applying effort to something that we may otherwise not have the energy for and estate planning seems to be one of those things people put off. Treat it like spring cleaning for your legal life!
3. The springtime is right before the glory of summer arrives, at which time, all bets are off. All the good ideas we may have for ourselves tend to get forgotten during the glory months of summer. I’ve observed many people prefer to use their summers for travel or spending time with now at-home children. Summer is not a great time to start a plan—though it can be a good time to update an existing plan. This is because updating a plan is easier and less time-consuming than starting anew. So if you’re an existing client, we will continue to reach out and offer check-in meetings in more abundance in the summer.
4. By the time autumn rolls around, people who wanted to complete their estate planning have a hard time getting started. When August rolls around, many families are fully immersed in back-to-school efforts and then, suddenly, it’s Halloween and the holidays are looming. It’s much harder to get something started when there are so many other life initiatives needing our attention!
5. Getting an estate plan done in the spring leaves people with a sense of refreshing accomplishment that can support all the year’s efforts. Because it feels so monumental, getting a plan done feels like taking a weight off one’s shoulders at any time of year. But getting that weight off earlier in the year rather than later leaves you with more energy later in the year for other things. And people do say that getting a plan done releases a lot of stuck, pent-up energy that they can put toward other “adulting” tasks.
6. The single best way to undermine your life is to make a promise to yourself and NOT DO IT. My partner calls this “disempowering our will,” which has implications for all areas of our lives. If you say you’re going to do something, then don’t do it, you just told yourself that your promises mean nothing. Even to yourself. That’s not good for us to do to ourselves. So a solution to this is…don’t make promises or commitments you aren’t reasonably sure you can or will keep. This includes estate planning—which is one of those things that people let slide from one year to another because it often doesn’t register as urgent, though it is important.
So how does your time frame look for getting your planning done this year? Would you like to tackle it early on? If so, we’re here and ready to support you when you’re ready.