It’s a fairly common question: “Why can’t I download a form and create my own trust or will?” However, estate plans, and that includes trusts and wills, are important legal documents and getting things wrong can have long-lasting consequences.
The Frisky‘s recent article, “Why You Should Hire A Lawyer to Write Your Estate Plan,” says that writing your own estate plan can be a complicated thing—and one that a non-attorney may find very difficult.
It’s More Than a Trust or Will. Many people believe that a trust or will and an estate plan are the same. This is not true. An estate plan is a legal strategy that prepares you for potential incapacity and eventual death. A trust and will are legal documents that are part of the estate plan. Additionally, you can’t just draft a trust or will and be done with it. A will is not effective until approved by the probate court, therefore, a will guarantees probate. You need to establish a trust. Your trust must be funded with your assets to ensure that they do not go through probate after you pass. The funding and aligning of your assets and beneficiary designations are the “key” to having an estate plan that will take care of your family.
Money, Time and Energy Savings. Creating your own estate plan will be more time-consuming than you may have thought. Hiring a lawyer to do this will cost you—but it will cost you more, if you decide to do it on your own. Hiring a lawyer for your estate plan will save you time, because he or she is trained in the law to do it the right way.
If you do finish your own estate plan and you realize that it really is a mess, you can hire a lawyer to do it over for you. However, calculate how much time, energy, and resources you’ve spent on making on your quick DIY estate plan. Work with an experienced estate planning attorney from the start and create a sound estate plan. You want an estate planning attorney who can help you simplify, consolidate, and align your assets to make things much easier for your family after you die or become incapacitated.
It’s Complicated. Since you likely are not an estate planning attorney, you will not fully understand what you’re doing, the complexity of estate planning and dealing with the financial institutions to change ownership and beneficiary designations to align your plan can drive you nuts. That’s because every word you write is crucial and every institution has their own set of rules. Everything you write counts and may be interpreted differently. The law in this area also changes all the time. Agencies in the federal government, the IRS, and the courts are always creating new regulations and decisions. Your estate planning attorney monitors all of this to make sure your estate plan is in compliance and takes the best advantage of the current law, and at Family Estate Planning Law Group we continually track changes in the law and the procedures financial institutions follow to ensure your estate plan is consistent with them.
Objectivity. Another thing your attorney adds to the mix—in addition to legal expertise—is objectivity. Your estate planning attorney will give you a clean, unbiased view of your current situation, along with a fair and honest assessment of your options.
Having an estate plan created by an experienced estate planning attorney is the better choice. It will save you time and effort and spare your family and loved ones from a lot of expense and friction in the future.
Reference: The Frisky (February 6, 2019) “Why You Should Hire A Lawyer to Write Your Estate Plan”