Tax Planning and Estate Planning Are a Lot Alike, and Ignored By Most!

People try, but “adulting” is hard!  Kids, pets, job, relatives, friends, bills, medical problems, car problems, work problems all in the last day, so when I have time I will start tax planning.  Same as….so when I have time I will start estate planning, it’s just so too far down on most peoples’ day to day list of things to do that all the other issues just cycle in some complex order that nobody understands and the last two items never seem to bubble up to the top…UNTIL THEY DO!

If you are a business owner, thoughts of tax planning might bubble to the surface a couple times a year, perhaps March 15th and April 15th (or later if you have filed an extension). As an employee or retiree, it might come to the surface just once a year, in April. You might get it over sooner, or go on extension and face it later, but it is just one day out of every 365, so like the reverse of Christmas morning, you unwrap the bad news and face the tax bill. For a few weeks after that, the tax planning “to do” circles around in the number two or three position, because the pain of the tax bill is still fresh, but as the pain fades and the kids, pets, job, relatives, friends, bills etc. start distracting you, it slips away. The cycle is complete and most will do nothing, then face the pain of a huge tax bill again in a year.

With estate planning there is an even a bigger problem, as the pain doesn’t cycle annually. It is sporadic and less frequent. Thoughts of estate planning might occur to you at an uncle’s funeral, at your mother’s bed side in the intensive care unit, when you see a close friend or classmate’s obituary.  Or worse, the inner circle, at your husbands bed side during a terminal illness, or at you wife’s funereal. Of course even after tragic events, estate planning can be easy to ignore, like tax planning, but often the repercussions are much more overwhelming. It makes us wonder, as a human race, why and how we can procrastinate and ignore the ONLY TWO THINGS THAT ARE GUARANTEED IN LIFE…DEATH and TAXES!