There are companies on the Internet that sell downloads and worksheets that you can use to create legal documents, including estate planning devices like last wills. This can make it seem like you really don’t need a lawyer to plan your estate.
Is this true? Since we are in the profession, you may assume that we cannot answer this question objectively, but you don’t have to take our word for it.
Several years ago, three legal professors that were enlisted by the magazine and website Consumer Reports examined last wills that were created using do-it-yourself downloads. They found significant flaws, and they stated that unintended consequences could come about if you use fill-in-the-blanks legal documents.
After hearing this feedback, the publication advised against the utilization of these boilerplate notions.
Choosing the Right Asset Transfer Device
One of the most common misconceptions that people harbor about estate planning is the idea that a last will is the only document you need if you are not extremely wealthy. In reality, people that are not residing in the financial stratosphere should definitely consider other options.
A revocable living trust is the ideal alternative in many cases because these trusts provide benefits that do not exist when a will is utilized. One of them is the ability to include a spendthrift clause to protect inheritors from bad decision-making, and this is a major advantage.
Plus, a will would be admitted to probate, which is a time-consuming and expensive legal process. Assets that have been conveyed into a revocable living trust can be distributed to the beneficiaries outside of probate, so the drawbacks are avoided.
These are a couple of the positives, but there are others that make a living trust a better choice for many individuals. And of course, there are other types of trusts that can satisfy different objectives.
If you consult with an estate planning attorney before you make any decisions, your options will explained to you thoroughly, and recommendations will be made based on your unique situation.
How will your wishes come to fruition after you pass away? This is a question that can be difficult to answer if you are a layperson without any legal guidance. Indeed, estate administration is an important piece to the puzzle, and you should keep this in mind when you are planning your estate.
When a trust is used, the trustee is the administrator, and an executor would handle estate administration tasks when a will is utilized. An estate planning attorney can be engaged during the administration process to provide assistance on an as-needed basis. This can be an invaluable resource when your family does not know how to proceed after your passing.
Considerations You May Overlook
You certainly address the events that will take place after you are gone when you are planning your estate, but you should also consider the eventualities of aging. Many elders become incapacitated, and you can account for this if you take the right steps in advance.
This may sound like a flippant statement, but you don’t have to worry about estate planning at all if the cupboard will be bare after your death. Nursing home costs can wipe away a large portion of your legacy, and 35% of elders will ultimately require this type of care.
Medicare does not pay for the custodial care that nursing homes provide, so this is a very big deal. Medi-Cal does pay for it, but it takes careful planning to gain eligibility, because there are low asset limits.
Elder law and estate planning attorneys understand how to implement nursing home asset protection strategies. This is one matter that many people overlook, but there are others.
Your initial estate plan is going to be based on a snapshot of your life situation at the time that it was created. Over the years, things will inevitably change, and estate plan adjustments may become necessary. When you establish a relationship with an inheritance planning lawyer, your attorney will be uniquely positioned to make updates if and when they become necessary.
Attend a Free Seminar!
Our attorneys are holding a number of seminars over the coming weeks, and you can learn a lot if you attend the session that fits into your schedule. There is no admission charge, so this is an ideal opportunity, but we ask attendees to register in advance so that we know how many people to expect.
You can check out our seminar schedule page to see the dates, and you can click on the session that interests you to obtain specific registration information.