It’s still early enough in the New Year and close enough to Valentine’s Day that initiating the discussion of estate planning with your partner is perfectly natural. Add on one more resolution! It’s something you can do as a couple.

Truth is, anytime is a natural time to discuss estate planning with your partner, though sooner is better than later. Having an estate plan can impact your entire life: your finances, your health, your children, your bobblehead collection… And yet, 72 percent of people don’t even have as much as a will. What’s more, 40 percent of people with no estate plan say it’s not a priority, and less than half of married couples have shared their end-of-life wishes with their spouses. Here’s how to start the conversation.

Starting the conversation

Avoiding the hard talk about what should happen when you get sick, seriously injured or die might be making things easier now, but this kind of avoidance will make things much, much harder in the long run. And really, talking about this stuff – estate planning – isn’t all that difficult. Slightly uncomfortable sure, but nothing excruciating. Look, if our founder Ben Neiburger can compete in an extreme triathlon at 50 and come out on the other side OK, you can have the estate planning talk with your spouse. Pain is temporary.

Maybe you’re among the 71 percent of folks who have no financial or healthcare power of attorney because you don’t understand what it is or why it’s important. Or maybe you just don’t know what an estate plan is. Think of it like this: The phrase “Put your affairs in order” is another way of saying “Get an estate plan.”

If your spouse is the one dragging their feet, don’t be afraid to ask them the tough questions. What would they do if you were in a car wreck and became fully dependent on machines? Would they know how you wanted to be treated, or when to pull the plug? Would a sibling or child or favorite nephew decide they were the ones who should make the call? Without a proper estate plan in place, hoping for a recovery can get overshadowed by family infighting and court battles. A will and a healthcare power of attorney can alleviate further heartache during a heartbreaking situation.

Find the time, sooner than later, to have the talk. Set a night aside when you’re both relaxed; do it over an informal lunch during the weekend. Whenever and wherever you have the discussion, know that by doing so, your relationship and family will be much stronger because of it.

Protecting what matters

An estate plan includes, but is not limited to, creating a will and trusts, and designating a financial and healthcare power of attorney – someone to make decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated due to accident or illness. We were really hoping that 2018 would be the year that you got a will and began your estate planning. We even created a guide for you to help make the process easier. (Check it out here.) But we realize that life happens, things come up and not everyone operates on the same schedule. It’s OK – there’s still time. You have 2019.

We want control in our life. Talking about our own death makes us feel that we have no control, which is perhaps why so many people avoid it. But the reality is that talking about it and making an estate plan actually gives us all the control. An estate plan can help make sure your final wishes are met and keep your family out of probate court, which can cost upward of $10,000. It also protects and supports your minor children.

An estate plan covers a lot of complicated things, but creating one doesn’t have to be. Generation Law’s no-homework approach is designed to make estate planning less of a hassle. If you and your partner are ready, give us a call.