“Tomorrow (noun): A mystical land where 99% of all human productivity, motivation, and achievement is stored.” – Art Nas
Just under 70 percent of Americans do not have a will. For many, the idea of writing one is hugely uncomfortable. No one relishes the idea of dying and writing a will can be a reminder we won’t always be here. Some think it’s an unnecessary expense they can’t afford. Others believe thinking about death means it will come faster. Some just can’t ever find the “right time”.
But leaving this mortal coil without one is not a great idea, either. So why do people put off writing their wills? In a word: Procrastination. Procrastination is a very real psychological barrier, and something almost everyone has dealt with at some point in their lives. Getting around it and getting on with doing things you know you should do, like writing your will, may be easier than you think! Here’s how.
How to Get Around Delaying
Deciding to sit down and do a will comes down to making a choice. You must choose to sit down and do it over watching Killing Eve or painting the bathroom. To do that you essentially need to come up with reasons why writing the will is better than doing the other things and make it doing it more important to you than any of the zillion other things you could be doing.
A trick psychologists offer is to focus on making the task at hand, in this case, writing a will, super important. Also, thinking about the unpleasant aspects of the alternatives helps. For example, working on your will is infinitely better than cleaning toilets.
The advice is solid but keeping on track can be more challenging than you think. If your natural tendency is to put things off, giving yourself a soft sell may not be as effective as it could be. One way to get around this is to imagine the finish line is closer than it is, thus making it a more pressing issue than it actually is. As morbid as it may be, pretending the end is near could get you going on your will faster than if you think you’ve got all the time in the world.
According to studies made by APA Psycnet, people procrastinate more when they deem a task to be distasteful. Breaking down the job into bite-size pieces makes it less intimidating and therefore, less disagreeable. So when writing your will, take it one step at a time. Look at deciding who gets what one day, who you want to be the executor (the person who carries out the terms of your will) another, and how you want your send-off to look on yet another. Before you know it, your will is complete, and you can go back to doing other things you enjoy. Also, you’ll know that you’ve handled something essential that will save your friends and family a lot of grief in the future.
Who Gets What…A Will Lets YOU Decide
Now that you have some tools for getting over the mental block to starting on a will, here are some reasons that may help spur you on.
Having a will allows you to decide who to dole out your things to. Even if you don’t think you have anything of value, you probably do. Deciding who gets your property, savings, car, record collection, jewelry, clothes or photos lets your loved ones off the hook when the time comes to start dividing your possessions after you’re gone.
The fact that they may not have a say at all is a big catalyst in finding the motivation to write a will. If you die without a will, the legal term is intestate, the state takes it upon itself to figure out who gets what. Spouses, kids, or parents get top priority most of the time, but a judge will have the final word and it may not be the one you would have wanted, leaving your loved ones disappointed or angry at the outcome.
How You Want Your Funeral to Look
Getting a say in whether you want your ashes scattered at sea or to be buried in the family vault can be set out clearly if you have a will. Otherwise, you face the possibility of spending all eternity somewhere you didn’t choose or don’t like.
Ditto with what you want your "going away" to look like. Do you want a big party in the garden with music blaring and people dancing, or would you prefer a more solemn affair where your loved ones hold a processional followed by a quiet reception? Without a will, they’re flying blind. Make one, and they can follow your wishes.