On Being 98% Perfect

Have you ever been faced with the need to address an important task but have “put it off” out of indecision as to how to best handle the matter? It is human nature to want to “get things right.” Often, when faced with difficult decisions, it is easy to procrastinate to avoid having to make difficult choices.

When it comes to defining and describing your estate planning objectives, we often find that difficult and emotion laden decisions need to be made. In more complicated settings, sophisticated and often complex transfer tax and income tax paths need to be explored and considered. Concerns over making the right choices often lead to procrastination (at best) or having no plan implemented at all when the plan is needed (at worst).

Rather than waiting to design and implement an estate plan to accomplish your important planning objectives until you have pondered and analyzed each and every minute detail (advanced transfer tax planning, income tax planning, charitable planning, etc.) – in other words, “getting things 100% perfect,” I have found that a “safer” approach is to encourage clients to “climb the planning ladder!” This involves first designing and implementing a plan that addresses the most fundamental and critically important components of a good and comprehensive estate plan – designating your legal “helpers” (personal representatives, agents under durable power of attorney, successor trustees, health care surrogates, etc.) and providing basic asset disposition instructions (“Who gets what, when and how”).  Then, with a recognition that these fundamental plan implementation documents are “revocable” and may be “tweaked” and modified over lifetime, leave the matters that are impeding any planning progress from being accomplished to subsequent plan revisions. In other words – start with the fundamentals (the ladder bottom) and move “up the ladder” as the more difficult issues are resolved.

In short, I refer to this type of “incremental planning” as being “98% perfect.” Obviously, a good estate planning professional should always strive to assure that your plan is 100% perfect, and you should certainly deal with professionals who ascribe to that standard. However, failing to implement your fundamental planning until your plan is “100% perfect” may well result in a situation (no plan) that is simply “100% wrong!”

To learn more or to get started today, visit bruceapa.com or call (772) 489-4901.

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