There are times in life when a do-it-yourself approach is a great option and times when it is not. When it comes to estate planning, filling out free templated forms found online will save you some money up front, but the end result may not be worth the modest amount of money you save.
Instead, it is a wise investment to hire an experienced estate planning attorney, and the reasons are at least two-fold. First, an attorney can ensure that all of your important documents are thorough, accurate, legally sound and tailored to your needs. Second, an attorney can actually help you plan for the future and cover a number of contingencies, while templated forms come with no guidance or knowledgeable advice.
Errors and ambiguity in estate planning documents can be costly
When it comes time to carry out the terms of your will or administer a trust, you won’t be around to answer questions or clear up confusion. It is crucial, therefore, that these documents are written as clearly and thoroughly as possible. They must also adhere to all administrative rules and laws to ensure that their validity cannot be questioned.
For these reasons alone, it is worth the money to invest in an estate planning attorney. And if you experience changes in circumstance or family dynamics throughout your lifetime (as most of us do), your attorney can help you update your estate planning documents quickly and efficiently.
Attorneys put the ‘planning’ in estate planning
Estate plans are more than just a list of who inherits your assets when you pass away. Good estate planning can help you plan for a wide range of contingencies while also minimizing estate taxes, reducing or eliminating the need for probate and avoiding the common pitfalls that could lead to disputes and even litigation between your heirs.
None of us wants to create more grief or strife for our loved ones because of problems with our estate. And from a practical standpoint, it is important to remember that taxes and the costs of litigation are typically paid with estate assets. If estate taxes are higher than they need to be or an estate issue gets litigated, the amount of assets left to pass on may be considerably diminished. For this and other reasons, the money you save with a DIY planning approach may pale in comparison to how much it could cost if something goes wrong.
If you want to know more about estate planning or are ready to get started, contact an experienced attorney in your area to discuss your options.