Hundreds of websites offer do-it-yourself wills and other estate planning documents. While DIY estate planning may seem like a good way to save a few dollars, it can have serious repercussions for your beneficiaries. Even if you have few assets, laws vary by state, so it’s always a good idea to seek the counsel of local lawyers for wills and other estate planning documents.
An Estate Plan is More Than a Will
Many people believe that as long as they have a valid will, they have all aspects of estate planning covered. This is simply untrue – proper estate planning is also designed to protect your rights and interests while you are still alive. Some other vital estate planning documents include:
- Power of attorney for health care
- Power of attorney for finances
- Advance directive (living will)
If you fail to have durable powers of attorney in place and you become incapacitated, the court may appoint someone to make medical decisions and handle your finances for you. A probate lawyer or estate planning attorney takes a comprehensive look at your specific needs and can help you draft solid, legally valid documents that protect you and your family.
Trusts Can Simplify Estate Planning
Assets in trusts usually don’t have to pass through probate, and some types of irrevocable trusts can offer tax advantages. However, if you attempt to create a trust by yourself, you run the risk of making mistakes that can have negative consequences for your loved ones. If you’re creating a trust, it’s important to be well-versed in the laws of your state to ensure it’s done correctly.
Trusts can include certain stipulations, such as disbursing funds over time or when a beneficiary reaches a certain age. This means that you have to do your homework, which can be complex and take a significant amount of time and energy. Using a good estate planning law firm instead of attempting to do it yourself ensures that any trusts are done right the first time and all your legal bases are covered.
Updating Your Estate Plan is Critical
Reviewing your estate plan every year or two or when major life events happen is essential. Marriage, the birth of children or grandchildren, divorce, and other happenings can have a significant impact on your estate. You may also acquire or sell assets. It’s critical to adjust your estate plan accordingly to help make things as easy as possible for your loved ones after you’re gone. For example, if you get remarried and want to ensure your children’s inheritance is protected, creating a new will and trust can help to ensure your assets end up in the right hands.
If you need assistance with estate planning, don’t go it alone. Our Pennsylvania wills lawyers and estate planning attorneys in Chester County PA offer affordable, personalized legal services you can trust.