People tend to put off estate planning and elder planning far longer than they should. Some choose a piecemeal approach, making plans for one thing or another over a period of months or years. Delay and the lack of a cohesive plan can cause many problems when it comes to your legacy. They can lead to unnecessary tax liability. They can frustrate your intentions. They can even lead to disputes that tear families apart. It is important to make a plan with a clear and consistent vision of what you want for the future.

Delay can cost you

Estate planning might force you to consider a very uncomfortable prospect: there will be a time when you aren’t able to make decisions about what happens to your property. That time could be the result of your passing or of a loss of faculty. Either way, it’s not something most people want to think about. As difficult as it may be, estate planning is vital. If you wait to make your wishes known, you could end up losing your assets and your dignity while simultaneously putting your family’s future in a precarious position. The time to plan for your future is now.

Bitter disputes

Part of the problem with incomplete or contradictory estate planning is that there is more than just property at stake. Disputes between parents and children, among siblings or between friends can be as much about preserving their understanding of your wishes as they are about the specific assets. If the children believe one thing and their step-mother believes another, the resulting fight can eat up your legacy and leave both sides angry and sad.

A proper estate plan should take into account all the plans, assets and legal documents in your portfolio. There should be no disagreement between pre-nuptial agreements, trusts, named beneficiaries and other documentation. If there is any room for dispute, it can and likely will lead to hard feelings.

Your estate plan is meant to protect you and your loved ones. When handled correctly, it will do exactly that and allow your family to grieve without the additional stress of competing visions of what you wanted.