Estate planning is a necessary part of taking care of your family for the future. Have you ever been in a situation where you had been told for years there was a will only to discover that wasn’t true? Have you ever felt caught in the middle between arguing relatives who both wanted the same asset? Those scenarios help to prove why you need to have a plan in place for when you have passed away, and your relatives are left to take care of everything from final arrangements to dividing assets.
Your estate plan should cover more than who obtains your possessions following your passing. Yes, inheritance is a significant portion, but there are other things to consider as well. For instance, if you have minor children, you will need a guardianship plan. At minimum, your estate plan should consider a durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will, and HIPPA release.
Can You Do Your Estate Planning Yourself?
There are ways to construct a do-it-yourself estate plan. You can use a DIY estate planning solution, or you could find a resource online to use to create your own estate planning documents. However, there are drawbacks to attempting to create your estate planning documents on your own.
If you are unfamiliar with inheritance, real estate, and finance laws, you may be in over your head if you attempt to create your own estate planning documents. Think of your estate plan as a recipe for future peace of mind. You can feel incredibly overwhelmed if you don’t know which ingredients you need for your recipe.
How do you know which documents you need? It’s easy to make mistakes when you attempt to create your own estate planning documents. This is a time when you don’t want to be doing any spontaneous decision-making.
Why a Lawyer Is a Helpful Member of Your Estate Planning Team
In addition to it being easy to make mistakes when you create your estate planning documents on your own, you can also miss current changes to the laws that govern estate planning in your state. Inheritance law as well as laws regarding trusts, guardianships, and powers of attorney change over time. New legislation or case law can drastically change how you need to word or create your documents.
As a layman, you might miss those changes to the laws. Even DIY sources for estate planning can’t always keep up with the changes. However, lawyers remain current on the changes to the laws that govern their area of expertise. An attorney will be able to help you create legally binding documents that address your future planning needs and comply with the laws in your state.
Your estate plan should be as unique as you are. Working with an attorney allows you to customize your plan to meet your needs. A lawyer can also help you determine exactly which estate planning documents you need based on your personal situation. Using a DIY estate planning source doesn’t allow for customization.
Customized to your needs
If your situation is even the slightest bit complicated, a DIY estate plan is likely not the right choice for you. For example, if you’ve been married more than once and have children from both marriages, you need a plan that benefits all of your children. If any of your children are minors, you should consider a guardianship. You might also need to establish a trust for them.
These are the kinds of decisions that an experienced estate planning attorney can help you navigate. Once you’ve decided which documents you need, the attorney can help you prepare them so they are airtight and legally binding. Professionally created documents are more likely to hold up against being contested than DIY documents.
Your attorney can provide you with legal guidance while constructing your estate plan. They can also answer questions and help you make changes to your plan if needed in the future. In addition, having an attorney help you prepare your documents means that your loved ones will have someone to contact if they have questions after you’ve passed away.
Estate planning is one of the most important things you will likely do in your life. When planning for the future for your loved ones, you can choose to do it yourself, but it’s easy to make mistakes and omit critical information if you do that. To ensure that your documents comply with state regulations and that you don’t leave anything out of them, it’s wise to consult an attorney specializing in estate planning.