Many people often say, “I don’t have an estate” or “I don’t have a big enough estate.” The word “estate” may conjure up thoughts of a very large and expensive house or millions of dollars in the bank. However, in reality, your “estate” matters because it includes everything you own including your property, bank and investment accounts, retirement accounts, personal property, automobiles and collectibles—regardless of their monetary value.
You don’t have to be objectively wealthy to need a proper estate plan. “Estate” planning is not just about the value of what you own, but the way you value what you have and the manner in which you want to pass it on out of love and stewardship. It can also be about passing on your beliefs and personal values, along with the goals and dreams you have for your children and grandchildren. The truth is you should have an effective and well-designed plan regardless of the dollar value of your estate because the lack of proper planning may result in unwanted stress for your family, unnecessary expenses and fees, and unneeded time delays.
Simple Wills Can’t Cover All Scenarios
Attorneys often hear a prospective client say, “I just want a simple will.” However, many people just don’t really know about or understand all the choices and options available to them so they think they only need a basic will plan. You may be surprised to learn what you need to know about wills and trusts and all the things you need to think about and address in your estate planning. For experienced advice and wise counsel, you should seek out an attorney who devotes all or a significant part of his or her practice to estate planning and who keeps up with all of the state-of-the-art strategies, options, and choices available to you, as well as changes in the law.
Don’t Rely on Online Legal Help to Save Money
Your estate plan is the box that carries your life savings. It’s just not worth the risk of damaging your life’s work just to save a few bucks. Even though low-cost websites offer enticing bargains, you cannot safely determine the legal course of action you should take using the general information you find on the internet, including on this website. You can save a few bucks now—but end up creating an expensive and frustrating mess for your family. Such websites often compare the price they charge for one or two documents to the price a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney charges for an entire estate plan with many documents and the personal service planning that goes into them before they are even prepared.
Online services aren’t law firms with trained and experienced lawyers in an attorney-client relationship with you. They can’t provide legal advice. If you make a huge mistake, they can’t even warn you or back you up. If you get stuck, they can’t help you. Most importantly, they can’t promise you that the documents they produce for you will work. They can’t—they’re not attorneys. In reality, they are basic document assistants, producing a one-size-fits-all solution. They are in auto-pilot typing your information into a generic form, not caring if it makes sense or if it’s a good idea for you.
All internet legal information is inherently general and cannot be a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney because the answer to almost all legal questions depends on your specific facts and circumstances. Unless you are a lawyer, you won’t know which facts are critical to determining the answers that are right for you when you enter information into their online system.
Custom Estate Planning is Worth the Cost
It’s all about creating legally-enforceable, carefully drafted, and thoughtfully designed documents that support your plan and do what you really want. Professionally prepared estate planning is worth every penny, making your lifetime disability situation and the process following your death easier and less expensive for your loved ones.
It’s important that your estate plan and the related documents are carefully prepared to meet your goals, circumstances, and needs. One size doesn’t fit all. While thorough estate planning specifically tailored to you is more expensive, poorly done or incomplete planning is often pricier down the road. Such planning can cost your loved ones a great deal more money than the price of professionally prepared planning, as well as less unnecessary time and emotional drain after your death. When we meet, we will discuss the following estate planning options and decide which one will work best for you: