Everyone needs a good estate attorney to create an estate plan for them. They’re not just for the wealthy. But the recent proliferation of websites claiming to replace estate lawyers in the marketplace has caused a great deal of confusion. The fact of the matter is that, on the one hand, the law is a matter of statutes and case law—and these statutes and cases can be found publicly. But on the other hand, attorneys interpret the grey zone between these rules in theory and their impact in application. Attorneys are the champions (if we do say so ourselves) people hire to go into battle for them in the arena of law. The law is complicated, and so is life. The truth is, no website can replace a good estate planning attorney for crafting your estate plan.
A good estate plan has several elements, including instruments in various combinations designed to fit a particular situation. Estate plans can establish instructions for the care you would like to receive if incapacitated or disabled and are unable to express your wishes in real-time. They can include a regime of care for a loved one who has special needs, providing them with both the services supplied by the state and federal government and assets that will be used to provide a better quality of life than is possible by default. A good plan nominates guardians for any minor children you have. This is a big deal, as the court will weigh this nomination heavily (of course, the nominated individuals must agree to the situation, and the court will vet them for suitability). Finally, a good plan can help protect loved ones who have trouble with finances or creditors by utilizing specific strategies (i.e., language drafted by an estate planning attorney!), which will keep money from seizure before your loved one can benefit from it. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Creating an estate plan is “easy” if you believe the rhetoric you read in a web search. Still, the generic legal advice and forms online cannot ask you subtle questions or explain the impact of your choices on how your estate is administered (who gets what, when, and how). Only an experienced attorney is familiar with these important gray zones. Worse, when you don’t work with an experienced attorney, you risk the solutions you try to implement completely failing at worst or going wrong at best.
Work With An Estate Attorney
An experienced attorney can guide you toward preventive solutions that will help to avoid pitfalls down the road. For example, most of us don’t want to leave behind an estate plan that proves to be no kind of plan, creating headaches for loved ones mourning our passing. It isn’t challenging to imagine how difficult it would be to have a loved one pass and then to find yourself associating them with the problems they left in their wake rather than the joys you both shared while they were still living. And when we turn this around to imagine that the person who has passed is ourselves, it can create a sort of recognition: it’s important to do this right for our loved ones.
Another way an attorney can help your loved ones is by establishing a plan that will avoid the lengthy and costly process of probate, which can take up to two years and completely does away with any semblance of privacy in the settling of the estate.
Any savings you may believe in having achieved by avoiding an estate attorney in the first place is likely to be dwarfed by the amount that may be spent fixing a poorly-created estate plan.
Contact An Estate Attorney For Help
If we have even part-way convinced you against slapping together your own will or trust from ill-fitting boilerplate, attend one of Promise Law’s free estate planning workshops. These workshops provide a great foundation of information that everyone needs to make sound planning decisions. Moreover, if you attend a workshop, you also get a complimentary one-on-one consultation with one of our attorneys.