One of the big reasons that many people never get their affairs in order is because they (mistakenly) believe that the process will take forever, and involve gathering their entire financial life. And to be fair, traditionally, estate planning lawyers would give clients a very long, very detailed “questionnaire” — some lawyers still engage in this practice. That questionnaire would often take hours for the client to fill out. “Oh great! Hours of homework after a long day, what fun!” … said no one, ever.
These days, thanks to advances in technology, the estate planning process can be much easier and faster than in years past. Also, since identity theft is now a much greater problem than it was in the past, the trend in estate plan drafting is to avoid gathering sensitive financial information. Instead, we estate planning lawyers can use intentionally broad, inclusive language to describe “everything” our clients own as being intentionally placed into their trust.
As a result of these changes, today the estate planning process can be very convenient. For example, most of my clients make a time commitment of 90 minutes or less (20 to 30 minutes for a consultation, and 45 to 60 minutes for their signing) to get their estate plans prepared and signed. When one considers that a 90 minute time commitment now can save a client’s loved ones from enduring up to three years in Probate Court later, it seems a very worthy use of time.