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When it comes to creating an estate plan, you have the option of 1) working with an estate attorney who specializes in this area of law to counsel you through the process and to create legal
documents or 2) trying to do it yourself. While creating your own estate documents can seem more affordable and convenient, it more often can cause problems. Specifically:
- Unintentionally excluding certain estate documents OR failing to ensure that the documents you have created will work well together;
- Misusing terms of art;
- Omitting important provisions when creating your plan because you are unfamiliar with all the decisions that need to be considered;
- Not being 100% certain how the documents you create will hold up when put to the test in a court of law.
Here are some of the main benefits of working with a professional estate planning attorney.
- Guidance A good estate planning attorney does more than simply draw up documents – they will take the time to learn about who you are and what you value most. Every decision will be carefully explained in a clear, easy-to-understand way to make sure you end up with the plan that is the best fit for your circumstances.
- Certainty Just like every family has different circumstances and ideas about how they want their affairs handled, every state has different laws governing how estates should be handled. A good estate planning attorney is going to be up to date on those laws and will be able to apply them correctly to your specific situation.
- Complexity The more complicated your situation, the more likely the room for making errors or accidental exclusions. If you’ve been divorced, have step-children, have adopted, have a domestic partnership, or have significant assets you are leaving behind, a good estate attorney has the expertise to get the details right and the ability to guide you through all the moving parts of what may essentially be a complicated set of decisions.
- Updates As your life changes, so does the need to update certain estate documents. You may not even be aware that your situation warrants a revision to your estate plan. There are many estate planning attorneys who offer a maintenance program (for a nominal fee) will contact all of their clients on an annual or semi-annual basis to inform them of changes in the law, explain new estate planning techniques, ask about life changes that will require modifications in the client’s documents, and to check up on the progress of the client’s funding.
In Summary… If your situation is simple, then the DIY route may be the right choice for you. But, if your life circumstances are a bit more complex, it is well worth the time and money to invest in a good estate planning attorney who possesses the knowledge necessary to create a plan that is right for your circumstances with documents that will hold up in a court of law.