Writing a will probably isn’t top of anyone’s list of New Year’s Resolutions – who wants to start 2017 with such a grim project? Indeed, according to a 2011 poll in the US, 60% of Americans would rather undergo root canal treatment, do their taxes or abstain from sex for a month than set down their final wishes. However, a US psychologist has suggested that we’re all lying to ourselves by procrastinating over writing our wills; instead, sitting down and planning our estates could empower us…
Considering death is one of the few certainties of life, why do so many of us put off writing a will? Apparently, it’s all to do with the very human instinct to deceive ourselves. In doing so, we avoid uncomfortable realities – a coping mechanism that Dr. Cortney S. Warren, a psychologist at the University of Nevada, covers in her book Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception.
“Humans are masters of self-deception,’ Dr Warren writes. ‘We don’t like to think of ourselves as liars; it hurts us too much to admit. So we lie to ourselves about that, too. As a clinical psychologist, I am frequently confronted with the fact that we all lie to ourselves. I believe that it is our biggest obstacle to living a fulfilling life.”
According to Warren, avoiding writing a will is a good example of us lying to ourselves. By the very act of writing one, we are acknowledging something we find very difficult to face; our own mortality.
In an article for Psychology Today however, Warren does highlight the feeling of empowerment which writing a will provides us with. “The main reason to write a will is to give yourself a voice,” she says. “It is actually a wonderful gift to those you love to have a will in place so that they can celebrate your life after you die—not become engrossed in legal battles over your stuff.”
Maybe it’s time to rethink your New Year’s Resolutions list for 2017 – and add writing a will to the top of it. To stick to resolutions, psychologists advise breaking goals into small steps.
Take the first one today by speaking to us at legalmatters. For more information, and to start 2017 with a little of the self-empowerment which writing a will can bring, call us on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.