Most professionals know that DIY estate planning can be very dangerous.
While completing the forms may seem easy and straightforward, a single mistake or omission can have far reaching complications that only come to light after a person has died.
The heirs could end up disappointed and confused. They could also end up paying much more in legal fees to try to sort things out after the fact than it would have cost in the first place.
Consider the following:
- Legal Expertise: Experienced estate planning attorneys have the technical expertise to draft documents correctly. They understand the technical terms and legal requirements in your state. Laws vary greatly from state to state, and a DIY program or kit may not tell you everything you need to know to make your estate plan work.
- Coordination of Assets: A will only controls assets that are titled in your name. You probably have other assets that are controlled by contract, joint ownership and/or beneficiary designations. These may include IRAs, 401(k)s, joint bank accounts, real estate and life insurance. A will does not control these assets. An experienced estate planning attorney will know how to coordinate these so that your assets are distributed the way you want to those you want to have them.
- Unmarried Cohabitants: Because laws are frequently changing and vary greatly from state to state, it is vital to have updated advice from a competent professional. Without proper planning, many rights may be limited for unmarried cohabitants.
- Complexity and Cost: Most people think their estate planning will be simple. But the reality is, most of us discover we do need some personalized planning. You may not even know that without the guidance of an experienced attorney. It is far better to spend a little more now and make sure your plan is created correctly than to try to save a few dollars and have things turn out badly later. You won’t be around then to straighten things out.
If you have questions about estate planning, please contact my office.