Procrastination and the 3-C’s

Procrastination – to put off INTENTIONALLY the doing of something that should be done.

We’re all guilty of this form of avoidance behavior, often giving in to feeling good now by delaying the task to do later. Family business owners often procrastinate when it comes to planning their estate, but doing so can be a risky and costly behavior. The most prevalent reasons as to why owners of family business procrastinate with estate planning include: 1) I’m not going to die, 2) I don’t have enough assets to bother with it, 3) I’m too busy, 4) I don’t want to make hard decisions, 5) I don’t trust anyone to take care of the business, just let them decide when the time comes.

Because procrastination is a coping mechanism to avoid fears and uncomfortable situations, owners of family businesses often need prodding when it comes to the task of estate planning. Chris Voss, author of Never Split the Difference is a former hostage negotiator who offers advice based on his experience of how to have vital conversations and getting someone to act. He explains how to recognize the three C’s of “yes”:

Counterfeit – “yes” to simply appease the person asking the question. In terms of estate planning, the person will say they are ready to start but are not.

Confirmation – “yes” as a response to hearing and knowing that action should be taken, but no promise is made. Time passes and no action is taken to start the process.

Commitment – “yes” is the buy-in and true agreement that leads to action to get you started on your steps of estate planning. The commitment “yes” is what you want but all three types sound very similar so you need to know how to recognize the difference.

Remember that something is better than nothing. A revocable trust can be changed at any time up until your death and should be a “working document” reviewed every five years to amend if necessary. So just get started! Even a little bit of progress can provide a powerful motivation to keep going in laying the groundwork to protect your loved ones and your assets.

Bea Wolper is President of the law firm of Emens & Wolper Law Firm, Columbus, Ohio, where her practice focuses on succession planning, estate planning, oil and gas law, contracts and the buying and selling of assets and businesses, with an emphasis on family-owned businesses. She is also the co-founder of the Conway Center for Family Business.