The Covid-19 pandemic may have you tackling more projects yourself. Do-it-yourself (“DIY”) mishaps in your house painting or dishwasher installation are correctable. The same cannot always be said for DIY estate planning.
An online search will bring up a myriad of estate planning forms and sites promising that with a few simple fill-in-the-blank responses you can rest easy knowing that you have completed a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, and other estate planning documents. But just filling in a few blanks with some names and printing out automatically generated forms without consulting an attorney licensed in your state can cause difficulties for you and your loved ones.
The DIY estate planning documents you find online do not take into account your individual needs and circumstances. Have you considered all your options? Have you planned for every contingency? Do you even know what all your options and contingencies are? You don’t know what you don’t know. An experienced estate planning attorney knows what questions to ask you to ensure you accomplish your estate planning goals without leaving gaps or incongruities.
Perhaps you are considering using DIY estate planning documents because of the perceived cost savings of purchasing generic forms online. But this approach often leads to increased cost when the documents are needed the most – upon your incapacity or death. And your loved ones, who you were trying to protect with your estate plan, are the ones who may end up paying the price in protracted probate or other litigation, unintended unfairness or disinheritance, or a family rift.
An estate planning attorney does much more than prepare forms. The attorney can guide you through decisions that need to be made concerning your children, possible incapacity, tax consequences, and other issues you may not have thought about.
An estate plan is not static. Life changes happen all the time. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can work with you to ensure that all of your estate planning documents work together to accomplish your goals, and assist you in updating your estate plan when changes happen.
Working with an experienced estate planning attorney and firm, like Schmidt, Kirby & Sullivan, P.C., is the best way to protect your estate and your loved ones. If you would like to talk with an attorney about starting your estate planning process, please call us at (417) 882-2828.