Why should you use an attorney to prepare your Will versus NOLO Press? Won’t you save a bundle by doing it yourself? My answer to you is as follows. Do you file your own taxes using tax software that you purchase each year (or use the forms available at the library) or do you hire professionals who have been educated and who are licensed to prepare tax returns? Do you self-diagnose yourself using WebMD or do you get a more accurate diagnosis by seeing a specialist? Think of your estate in the same light. Will you fully understand the questions asked by the automated software or are you better served by a real person asking you detailed questions? Just like using Turbo Tax, if you don’t start the process properly (like using the correct depreciation table for a depreciating asset) then the end product is flawed.
Years ago, I took on two court matters within a month, both by individuals who planned their own documents. The first created a trust but did not also create a pour-over will and he did not transfer any assets into the name of his trust. Then he died. We had a full probate because the Trust could only control the assets in the name of the Trust (there were none) and there was no will directing assets into the name of the trust. Because he did not want to spend money hiring an attorney, I receive thousands of dollars more in statutory fees then he would have spent putting his plan together property. The second also planned his own documents by copying a friend’s set of documents. But what he failed to do was describe who was to get what at his death. In a boilerplate section of “I leave my real estate to” it was blank. It was the same for a section for personal property. There were a couple of children, so we had to get the court involved to tell us how to distribute the property, which the final order was under the laws of intestacy (just like if he had done no estate plan at all). Again, in “saving money” the family spent more time and money fixing the issues after the fact.
I spend a great deal of time with my clients learning about their families, their pets, and their assets before I even begin determining the best plan for their situation. Only upon learning about the kids, their families, their kids etc can I start helping clients through the process of determining how they should distribute their estate and at what point should a beneficiary get their inheritance. In a non-thought out plan, one might name a child as a beneficiary of life insurance only to fail to consider that if that child is a minor, then a new court proceeding (guardianship) will be established to hold the minor beneficiaries inheritance. Further, a child may have a substance abuse problem or a spending problem, should a parent endow them with a large inheritance, only to have it squandered away? There are methods of distribution that can be tailored to fit the needs of my clients.
There are times to cut costs and use coupons; planning your estate is not the time.
My method of working with clients is much the same now as it was when I had a brick-n-mortar office. In the past, when a new client wanted to get started on estate planning, I would mail them a questionnaire to fill out and return to me. I do the same now, only it is […]
Separate Lists for Tangible Personal Property: Referencing Lists in Wills, Enforceable and Practical
As a practical matter, many times clients have personal property which, while often not of high extrinsic value, may be of high sentimental value to various family members. This sentimental value may be only in the eyes of the Testator/Settlor, or may be the subject of intense family drama. The following is designed to help […]
Feature Title As technology continues to grow and expand around us, I believe it is important to provide a method for web-savvy clients to have access to legal services. These clients plan their vacations, shop for their groceries, entertain themselves and connect with family and friends online. These same clients expect their attorney to connect […]
Where did the time go and how in the world did that teen of yours become an adult? After years of worrying whom you should name as guardian of your baby, they all of a sudden become an adult and no longer need that consideration. However, there are now new things to think and worry […]