The Value of Estate Planning Attorneys
Dave Ramsey is popular for his financial advice and while we agree with the fundamental principle of financial education and fiscal responsibility, we disagree with some of his positions. Notably, his suggestions that “most household estates aren’t that complicated and don’t need an attorney,” and “a Will produced online is just as legal as one a lawyer produced.” Our experience, based on helping clients plan their estates, shows otherwise.
Regardless of the complexity of a household estate, an experienced estate planning attorney provides valuable insight and assistance in the estate planning process, and while online services may be more convenient, it is not as great as it sounds. It’s certainly cheap, but as in many cases, you get what you pay for. Below, we offer five reasons why hiring an estate planning attorney is wise no matter how the size or complexity of your estate.
You Only Think Your Estate is Simple
During the first meeting with an estate planning attorney, he or she will ask you about your assets, your family, and what you envision happening with your estate at your death. With the attorney’s specialized knowledge, he or she may spot issues that an online Will won’t address.
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Do You Understand What the Document Says?
When an attorney prepares your estate plan, he or she spends time with you and learns about you, your life, your family, your property, your intentions, your family differences, etc. Then the documents are drafted tailored to your life and your family. Time is taken to explain every provision in the documents to make sure you understand what you are signing. For an online will, you need to fill in the blanks. If you don’t understand the documents, you may not fill in the blanks correctly, causing confusion and potentially resulting in defective documents that can seriously impact your estate.
You Want a Trust
Trusts have many benefits. Although trusts are more expensive than Wills up front, they save your family money when the time comes to administer the estate, and, when done right, can greatly reduce your family’s anxiety and stress dealing with your property after your death.
You Aren’t Married to Your First Spouse
The most common estate issues involve fights between children from a prior marriage and the surviving spouse. The children think that the money belonged to their parents and was meant for them, but the surviving spouse feels entitled to support. The fact is, it’s your money and you should be able to do whatever you want with it. An estate planning attorney can help you decide the best way to ensure your assets ultimately end up with your children without cutting off the second spouse.
There Is a Possibility That You Might Die Before Your Spouse
If you die before your spouse, and he or she remarries, your assets could end up with the new spouse instead of your children. An attorney can help you craft an estate plan that protects your assets from inadvertently ending up with the new spouse.
There are many more situations where you would benefit from the assistance of an attorney in putting together their estate plan.