Is estate planning something you can do on your own? Or is it better to work with an established wills, trusts, and estates attorney? This is one of the most frequently asked questions we receive here at Singh Law Firm.
At the most basic level, estate planning can be done on a DIY basis. It’s very doable to locate and complete the appropriate forms and documentation.
However, estate planning absent a skilled attorney can have its downsides. In this post, we’ll outline just a few of the reasons why you may be better off working with a wills, trusts, and estates lawyer.
1) An attorney can help you identify your estate planning needs.
Estate planning is more complex than it’s often made out to be. It’s not just about determining who gets what when you die! Yes, that’s part of it, but also think about this: How will you ensure that your healthcare wishes are carried out, should you become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself? A skilled will and trust attorney can help you think through these and other important issues.
2) A will and trust attorney can assist you in alleviating tax burdens.
An oft-overlooked part of estate planning is developing a strategy to minimize the taxes you owe. This allows you to transfer the full value of your estate to the designated beneficiaries. Often, minimizing taxes will require you to set up a trust as well as a will. This is an area where DIY estate planning may come up short. A professional can offer valuable expertise.
3) An attorney can help you find a trustee.
If you do end up establishing a trust, you’ll want to be careful to identify the best, most qualified, most responsible person to serve as trustee. Your attorney can help you determine who that might be, and also provide the chosen person with the right level of “trustee training.” Your attorney may also be able to serve as a trustee for you or provide guidance for managing your estate assets.
4) A living wills lawyer can assist you with end-of-life planning considerations.
Let’s return to our earlier comment about what would happen if you were incapacitated. That’s something everyone should think about during their estate planning process. There are a number of documents that can be helpful here, like the advance healthcare directive, power of attorney, or living will. Make sure you seek the advice of a seasoned living wills lawyer!
5) A lawyer can advise on probate issues.
How do you keep the contents of your estate confidential? And how do you minimize the hassle your beneficiaries are left with? The answer to both questions is to avoid the probate process. Your lawyer can help with this.
6) Your attorney can help keep your estate plan up to date.
There are a number of instances in which you may wish to revise or amend your estate plan. For example, what if you get a divorce? What if you remarry? What if you buy a second home? What if you adopt a child? An estate planning lawyer can assist you in updating your estate plan as needed.
While DIY estate planning is possible, it’s not always advisable. There are a number of reasons why it might make sense to work with a lawyer. To speak with an experienced estate planning professional, we welcome you to reach out to Singh Law Firm. Contact us at your next opportunity.