“He who picks up one end of the stick, picks up the other also”

September 23, 2015 - Posted by: admin - In category:

taxes - No Responses

This often repeated maxim has application in all areas of life, including estate planning.

I was reminded of this wise saying while doing some leisure reading earlier this week. I first considered the context in which it was used in that book. I later realized that this is also very much applicable in the world of life planning, including financial planning, estate planning, tax planning and related matters. First, I guess we should focus on the meaning of the saying. Although there are likely various interpretations, I read it to mean that when you make a choice or take action, you are at the same time choosing certain consequences that will invariably follow such decision or action. To use another favorite phrase, “you had better want what you want.”  How does this apply in the context of estate planning? Great question, thanks for asking. Let’s consider a few examples.

The self-help (“do it yourself”) estate planning stick–the end of the stick, as it were, that people often pick up with great eagerness is the one that appears to offer substantial economic savings. It is my experience that most people elect to “do it themselves” because they want (sometimes need) to save money and therefore think that finding ways to do legal, accounting, tax planning, financial planning and the like themselves, rather than paying a professional advisor, will save them money. What is often not considered or understood is that the “other end of the stick” in this context can be significant problems and substantial costs related to trying to clean up such problems later.

The internet-form stick–similar to the last item, the part of the stick focused on and grasped with enthusiasm is the promise of saving money and “easy” legal work without the need to hire an attorney. The other end of the stick is the reality that this is little more than purchasing expensive papers (sometimes as much as $50 or more per page) that may or may not be applicable or helpful for your particular situation. In short, this can be the legal equivalent of buying yourself a box of razors and a copy of Grey’s Anatomy instead of going to a hospital for surgery.

The “let others choose” stick–while it may seem easier at present for you to defer any decision making to others in the future, the reality is that such deference and procrastination can and very often does lead to messy situations for your loved ones later. None of us would feel good about creating a sizable problem and then leaving the resolution of such problem for loved ones later. However, in many respects, this is exactly what you are choosing for others (a “you clean up my mess for me later” approach) when you procrastinate proper design and planning now.

You are and always will be free to choose your course of action, including with regard to planning that you engage in for yourself, your property and for your loved ones. The choice is yours, but remember that in so choosing you are picking up “both ends of the stick” and that means that certain natural consequences will follow from your choices. These can be positive and productive consequences, or these can be negative and problematic consequences. While we cannot know exactly what the future holds, with some proper guidance from competent professionals, you can get a good glimpse as to what is in your future and the future of your loved ones because of the choices you are making. In short, you can come to understand with a reasonable degree of certainty what type of “stick” you have chosen.

Ryan L. Jensen
Pharos Law Group, PLLC
Salt Lake and Logan, Utah
855-239-8015 | pharoslaw.com

Leave a Reply