My situation seems fairly straightforward; do I need to hire an attorney to execute my will or can I use software and do it myself?
Have you ever googled “Pinterest Fails?” There are thousands of examples of do-it-yourself projects gone bad, many of which can provide a good laugh. When you are dabbling in recipes and crafts, why wouldn’t you give it your best shot? You can always get a do-over or turn to a professional if you fail. However, there are mistakes that cannot be undone and at times, it may be too late to turn to a professional. In the case of a major plumbing DIY fail or even retirement planning, the damage may not be irreparable, but will likely be very costly. With estate planning, you really only get one shot; it is literally a life or death matter and must be handled prudently. Some things in life ought not to be left to chance.
Working with an attorney to create an estate plan does require an upfront investment, but it will likely pay dividends in the future. The good news is that if your situation really is straightforward, the cost should be relatively low, and one could argue that the value added is priceless. Here are just a few reasons to use an attorney:
- Having a will is not enough. You also need a living will and power of attorney. A lawyer will be up to date on the changing laws that affect these documents and will be able to guide you through the process.
- If you are dead or incapacitated, you can no longer advocate for yourself and your wishes. Documents that have been drawn up by an attorney are far less likely to be challenged/contested and are also significantly more likely to be upheld.
- By taking the appropriate estate planning measures, you take the responsibility off your next of kin and/or heirs, potentially providing them some peace of mind during an already difficult time.
- A good estate planning attorney will be your trusted guide, navigating through the nuance of laws from state to state, including the impact of taxes, probate and other legal issues. He or she will help to ensure that your assets pass according to your wishes, while minimizing the costs to execute your plan at the time of your death and could become a great resource for your heirs as well.