Ides of April

Spring bears many momentous dates: while the ancient Romans settled their debts on the Ides of March, contemporary Americans settle their taxes on Tax Day, viz., April 17.

We all know about the obligation to file returns, at least annually, by April 17th. Many of us also deal with estimated taxes and the quarterly obligations that flow from that. And, of course, others have all kinds of obligations throughout the year, especially if they run payroll. But, regardless of your tax reporting cycle, if you don't do what you're supposed to do, someone's going to come find you and (if you’re lucky) yell at you.

What does that have to do with wills??? Well, it's a perfect counterpoint to estate planning, in the sense that if you don’t get around to doing your wills, neither the IRS nor your children will hunt you down and start garnishing your paycheck. So it's an area in which the need for self-discipline and self-monitoring is critical, precisely because there's no external obligation.

Experience leads me to conclude that what delays many people from starting this important planning is the belief that they have plenty of time to “deal with it later.” You hardly need me to tell you this, but that's sometimes… tragically wrong. But aside from the embarrassment of forgetting to plan to be “called home,” everyone wants to know that their children will be taken care of, that their spouse will be left with an orderly plan, and that things will go smoothly for their loved ones. And, if your estate is large enough to attract the taxman, congratulations!

For anyone with an estate, with a balance sheet tiny or mighty, family large or small, a well-drafted, duly-executed plan makes the world a more manageable place for those you leave behind.