If you know that you need an estate plan but you have not gotten around to making one, resolving to get it done in 2014 can be one of the best things you decide to do this year. Making a New Year resolution is a great way to motivate yourself, but far too many people fail to follow through because they do not give themselves a practical way of going about accomplishing their goals. To help you make sure you actually complete your estate plan, here are a few practical steps you can follow.
Tip 1. Give yourself a hard deadline.
The more nonspecific your resolution, the less likely you are to follow through with it. Instead of telling yourself you will make an estate plan this year, write down a specific date on your calendar that will give you something to aim for. Whether you select 30 days from now, two months from now, or July 1st, give yourself a target.
Tip 2. Use someone else’s estate planning example.
One of the big reasons why people fail to follow through on New Year resolutions is that they just don’t know where to begin. Taking that first step is often the hardest part of any new task. Fortunately, you don’t have to start in the dark. One of the best ways to get started is to use what scientists call a behavioral model.
A behavior model is simply an example that you can follow. If creating an estate plan is your goal, all you have to do is find a friend, family member, or even a coworker who has already done it. Ask that person how he or she began. Ask questions about the process. Use their answers to give yourself a mental road map that can guide you through the process.
Tip 3. Get others to go with you.
Another big reason why so many people fail to follow through on their New Year resolutions is that they make their decisions in private. Telling yourself that you will create an estate plan is one thing, but telling your family, friends, and coworkers that you’re going to do it is much different. When you are part of a group and tell other people that you are going to do something, you gain the benefit of positive social pressure to actually do it.
What’s even better is if you can join a group, or form a group, of people who all agree to create an estate plan together. By sharing the experience, talking about your difficulties, and keeping each other honest, you’re much more likely to actually go through with making your plan.