Many people push off estate planning, but when life-changing events take place, they may realize that planning for death has many benefits.

The majority of American adults don’t have estate planning documents prepared. According to a study done by, almost 60% of American adults don’t make estate plans. It’s a pity, because having these documents is the only way to make sure your wishes are carried out in times of illness or in case of death. And if there’s no will to go by, state laws decide who gets all your assets, instead of you being able to choose.

Estate planning documents include assigning a power of attorney to take care of medical care, assigning guardians for minor children, and creating a plan for what will happen to your assets. These kinds of documents are important for every person to have prepared, no matter what age or stage he is in.

When you hire an estate-planning attorney, they will help you figure out which documents you need. You can also talk to them about where you want your assets to go, and what kinds of legacy giving will work best for your estate. 

Top Reasons People Don’t Make Estate Plans

Having an estate plan is important to secure your peace of mind. It gives you the assurance that your wishes will be carried out no matter what happens to you. So why do so many people avoid making estate plans?

There can be many reasons that people don’t make estate plans. Here are some of the main ones.

1. Estate planning means thinking about uncomfortable things

Like dying. Like being unable to take care of yourself at any point in your life. Those kinds of topics are probably the least enjoyable thoughts you can have. Although it happens to everyone, thinking about death reminds people that they won’t always be in control. Death and losing control are scary topics for most people.

Jewish ideas on this topic can be very encouraging for people, as Judaism believes in life after death. This means that our essence lives on even after we die. We can still feel feelings, think thoughts, and receive reward for all the good deeds we’ve done in this world. In fact, for people who have done good in their lives, life after death will be even more wonderful than life in this world. These thoughts can be very comforting.

But death still isn’t something people want to think about.Instead, people push the thoughts away…and don’t think about creating estate plans.

2. Many people are not sure what estate plans are all about

Many American adults don’t even know why they need an estate plan. They don’t know which documents need to be included or who they need to talk to so that everything’s in place.

Part of this also includes not being aware of the consequences of not having a will. When someone dies without a will, his estate passes through probate court, and the laws of the state decide who gets the assets, instead of the deceased individual’s wishes being followed. It’s not an outcome most people would want for their estate. But because they aren’t aware of this outcome, they will push off making their plans.

3. It will take too much time and cost too much money

A lot of busy adults feel that they don’t have time in their hectic lifestyles to work on an estate plan. They’re also afraid that it will cost a lot of money. If they ever think about estate planning, these reasons come to mind and they just leave their plans on the back burner.

4. People assume they don’t need to create a plan

People think that if their assets aren’t worth so much, and they don’t have a spouse or children, then they don’t need to create a plan. But everyone wants to have the say in what happens to their money when they’re gone, even if it’s just a few thousand dollars they’d like to leave as a charitable bequest. So estate plans are still important for many people who think that estate planning does not apply to them.

5. Procrastination

This reason is a combination of all of the above. People push off doing things they know they should do that they don’t feel up to doing, leaving it for a later point. The danger is that they can keep pushing it off until it may be too late, with the risk that their money will end up in the wrong hands.

Leave a Lasting Imprint on Hearts & Souls

With a charitable bequest to Rabbi Meir Baal Haness tzedakah in your will, you set us up as your messengers to replace difficulty and sadness with joy for many years to come.

Let’s Discuss Your Options

cases for Reb Meir Baal Haness tzedakah food distribution

Leave a Lasting Imprint on Hearts & Souls

With a charitable bequest to Rabbi Meir Baal Haness tzedakah in your will, you set us up as your 
messengers to replace difficulty 
and sadness with joy for many 
years to come.

Let’s Discuss Your Options

When Estate Planning Becomes More Real

So if people push off making important plans for one reason or another, at what point do things change? When do estate plans actually get made?

Planning for death, including the distribution of assets and planning a jewish funeral, usually happens when something big occurs in someone’s life. There are several common trigger events that cause people to decide not to put the planning off any longer.

1. When someone close dies unexpectedly

This kind of shocking event makes most people take stock of their lives and think more about their own mortality.

This is especially so when the sudden death occurs in a person’s immediate family, and the person is now sitting shiva (the Jewish ritual mourning period.) This time of mourning becomes a time of reflection and introspection. Sitting shiva for a parent, sibling or spouse can bring on a lot of emotional turmoil. 

People start thinking, “If it happened to my mother or sister, it’s going to happen to me also.” Once they’re ready to acknowledge the fact that they will one day die, it becomes easier to start the planning process.

2. When someone they know dies without a will

Sometimes it’s family, sometimes it’s a friend or acquaintance. But whenever a person hears about someone who died without a will, they realize that how their assets are distributed after their death is completely dependent on whether or not they’ve prepared the necessary documents. The impact their assets leave is no longer up to them once they’re gone, unless they have an estate plan in place. If this scenario happens to a family member and you are sitting shiva, deciding to legacy gift part of your estate to charity in their memory can serve as a bit of solace. Even if your family member didn’t get to choose a charity to give to, gifting in their memory is still a merit for them.

3. Getting diagnosed with an illness

When a person hears that he is sick, there are a lot of painful emotions involved. A reality check occurs, where death seems closer than ever.

There is also fear of one not being able to take care of himself if the illness progresses. Both of these are reasons to think about estate planning and making arrangements for jewish rituals for death.

Creating an estate plan when you are in this kind of situation can actually feel very comforting. It will feel good to know that whatever happens, you and your family are prepared to deal with it. When you assign beneficiaries to parts of your estate, the feeling of giving can also boost your mood.

4. Life-changing events.

Getting married (especially for the second time around), or having a child, makes people think more about the cycle of life. It becomes important to plan for the future when new members join your family and you want to make sure that they will be taken care of in any eventuality.

5. Reaching a new stage of life

Once a person reaches a certain age, they realize that making their wishes clear for after their death is important, and that the time has come to begin making plans. Whether they first focus on Jewish funeral customs, legacy gifting, or power of attorney plans, after turning 70 years old a person is very likely to write down clear instructions. 

The Best of Times for Estate Planning and Legacy Giving

Although life-changing or shocking events can make you think more about estate planning, it’s always a good idea to have an estate plan in place. Even younger adults can stand to benefit from having estate planning documents prepared. Some of the avoidance people have toward estate planning and creating legacy gifts is rooted in the fear of losing control. But the truth is that leaving clear instructions and getting started early on plans gives people the maximum ability to control what happens to their estate.

After a person dies, there are three places their money can end up. Either:

  • Family members inherit it
  • Charities receive it as a bequest
  • The government takes their taxes

Most people prefer to make sure that the smallest percentage of their estate goes to taxes. This is best done by planning early. Legacy giving to charities is also a great way to decrease the percentage of taxes on your estate, without family members losing out on their inheritance.

Giving a large legacy gift to charity, whether as a charitable bequest or through a donor-advised fund, puts people in control of deciding what will happen to their money. They can choose the organization or cause they want to support, and continue influencing what happens past their lifetime.

This kind of gifting is also a way to bring some happiness to the process of estate planning. Making a charitable bequest helps a person feel that he is giving to others, a feeling that promotes satisfaction.

Estate planning is an emotional time, especially when the decision to start creating an estate plan is brought about by difficult life events like sitting shiva or being diagnosed with an illness. Legacy gifting is a way of bringing meaning and joy in the place of fear and anxiety. Knowing that by creating a legacy gift, even if it is a small amount, you are making a difference, can create feelings of fulfillment and a sense of purpose.

Thinking about estate planning, planning jewish funeral customs, legacy giving, or any other topics related to one’s own death can be difficult at first. But ultimately, giving thought to these important plans can create a feeling of security, control, and wellbeing when it is done to your satisfaction.


When should I start estate planning?

You should start estate planning as soon as you have assets or dependents that you want to protect.

How much of my assets should I gift to charity?

The percentage of assets you gift to charity is a personal decision, but a common recommendation is around 10%.

What documents do I need for estate planning?

Important documents for estate planning include a will, power of attorney, and advanced healthcare directives.

What are the benefits of legacy giving?

Legacy giving, or charitable bequests, allows you to create a lasting impact and can bring a sense of fulfillment and joy.

How do I choose a charity to leave a bequest to?

Consider charities that align with your values, have a proven track record, and will use your bequest effectively.

What are the advantages of creating a donor-advised fund?

A donor-advised fund allows you to make a charitable contribution and continue to have a say in how the funds are distributed.

What are the important aspects of planning for a Jewish funeral?

Jewish funeral customs vary, but may include shiva (seven-day period of mourning that follows the burial of a loved one), kriah (act of tearing one’s clothing as a sign of grief performed by close relatives of the deceeased), and taharah (Jewish ritual of washing and preparing the deceased for burial).

What happens if I don’t have a will?

If you don’t have a will, state laws will determine how your assets are distributed.

How can estate planning provide peace of mind?

Estate planning provides peace of mind by ensuring that your wishes will be followed and your loved ones will be taken care of.

What are the different types of power of attorney and when are they necessary?

Different types of power of attorney include financial, medical, and durable power of attorney, and they can help ensure that your affairs are managed according to your wishes if you become incapacitated.

Are you looking for an attorney who can tell you more about planned giving in your will? Before starting the process of hiring an attorney, you can read what is planned giving and legal resources for planned giving for a better understanding of how this option might work for you.

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