Wills are legal documents that state who your property will belong to in the unfortunate event of death. Similar to a will, a trust is a legal document that is created during life, or as a part of your will. In trusts, an individual, known as the grantor, transfers the ownership to a trust that is then managed by a fiduciary, or trustee, for the benefit of another individual, the beneficiary. Trusts specify the purpose of the document along with the terms and conditions entailed. Many services have been created that offer do-it-yourself estate preparation documents and software. With these types of programs, individuals can draft their own wills and trusts. Although the legal requirements for drafting a trust or a will are fairly simple, just one simple mistake can invalidate the documents entirely. These services can be beneficial for those who have limited saving and investments, plus little to no property. However, those who have strong savings, investments, and property should steer away from do-it-yourself estate planning programs.
Estate planning attorneys can be beneficial in determining what needs are simple and what aren’t when your drafting a will or trust. Consider the following questions:
- Do you own any tax-deferred retirement plans?
- Do you have an estate that is taxable under federal and state law?
- Is there anything unique about your estate, like having children from a previous marriage, or a disabled child?
- Do you understand how to fund revocable trust?
Estate planners ensure that your needs are covered when you are in the drafting process. If you’re still unsure whether hiring a estate planning lawyer is a good idea, we put together a few essential reasons why hiring a lawyer can be beneficial during the drafting of a will or trust.
Why Hire Estate Planning Attorneys while Drafting
Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning
As we mentioned before, DIY estate planning programs are available to ‘assist’ those who are in the drafting process of their will or trust. Many people choose to purchase DIY estate planning programs and documents with the belief that it will help them save money, however that is not always the case. Even though they may be a cheaper alternative to hiring a lawyer, there are several reasons that DIY may not be the best option.
Problems With DIY Estate Planning Programs…
- Do not deal with common estate complexities, like children, large estates that are subject to estate taxes, and property that has appreciated in value
- Even the simplest error can cause the will or trust to become invalid
- Correcting errors can be expensive
- No professional legal advice
- Contingencies like being predeceased by divorce, children or beneficiaries
- Changes in estate planning laws
- Does not recognize an individual’s unique circumstances
Obviously, using form wills and trusts can save people money, but they do come with risks. Problems like violations of state law, defective forms, or even improper witnessing will not be probable when the documents are signed. Problems with documents may be discovered when death occurs years later, and at that point it may be expensive to revise the documents. Worse case scenario, it may be too late to make changes, potentially causing the documents to become invalid.
Complicated State Laws
Depending on what state you reside in, the laws about what may or may not be included in estate planning documents can vary. For instance, some states have laws pertaining to who may serve as a Personal Representative and who can serve as a witness. Some states even require different rules and procedures that must be followed when signing the required estate planning documents.
Estate planning attorneys specialize in guiding you through the documents, helping you create your draft. Unlike estate planning programs, estate planning lawyers will help clarify the will or trust process and answer any questions you may have, in addition to preventing potential problems. Attorneys also keep up with all the changes that occur with estate planning laws, something that online websites and software is slow to do.
Estate planning can be a complex job, and someone with no experience may not know the questions to ask or what needs to include in their documents. Attorneys specialize in anticipating situations that we don’t expect to happen. And the truth is, the unexpected happens more often than most people realize. A experienced and professional estate planning attorney will fully listen to your needs and concerns, offering guidance on your situation and helping you indicate the areas that need to be considered.
On of the biggest problems people discover with do-it-yourself estate planning, is that there is absolutely no legal representation. Without it, you could be left feeling alone when you run into complex problems and difficulties. When you hire an experienced estate planning law firm, you can rest assured that you have continuous legal support whenever you are faced with future difficulties.
Do You Need an Estate Planning Attorney?
Don’t put your wills and trusts at risk by using DIY estate planning websites and programs. Opting for these alternative services could potentially affect your loved ones in the future. It is best to contact an estate planning lawyer to help guide you through your wills and trusts. Hiring an estate planning attorney to review and discuss the purpose of your estate trusts and wills will not only benefit you, but your loved ones as well in the future.
If you’re looking for an estate planning law firm, there’s no better choice than Baldwin Law Firm. With decades of legal experience, and extensive knowledge on wills, trusts, and estates, Baldwin Law Firm has been providing Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester counties with professional, trusted, and respected estate planning services. If you’re considering creating a will or trust, be sure to contact their experienced attorneys at Baldwin Law. Our professionals can help you with the drafting process, ensuring you fill the gaps and cover the most important aspects. Whether are interested in receiving further information, or a FREE estate planning consultation, contact the expert estate planning attorneys at Baldwin Law Firm!