When you have been procrastinating about a responsibility because you are reluctant to engage professional assistance, you may decide to go it alone. Without question, there are many things that you can do for yourself if you put in the time and effort.
At the same time, in some cases, the potential negatives outweigh the positives. With this in mind, we will look at do-it-yourself estate planning in this blog post.
Downloads and Worksheets
There are websites on the Internet that sell generic legal documents. They offer downloads and worksheets, and you simply follow the instructions and voilà, you can print out a last will or some other legal device.
In fairness, a document that is created by a layperson using a generic template could be legally admissible. However, there are some things to take into consideration before you decide to plan your own estate.
First of all, when you think about estate planning documents, you may boil everything down to the creation of a last will. A last will can be a good choice for some people, but it is not your only option, and it is not always the best way to go.
One thing to understand about a last will is that it must be admitted to probate after your death. This legal process is not inherently negative, but it is time-consuming. It will take close to a year even if the case is not complicated in any way, and the heirs must wait out the process before they can receive their inheritances.
Plus, if you name someone in your last will to receive a lump-sum inheritance, this person could spend the money too quickly and experience subsequent financial hardships.
These are just a couple of the limitations, but there are others. If you were to use a revocable living trust instead of a last will as a vehicle of asset transfer, probate would be avoided. You could also empower a trustee to manage the funds in the trust, and you could instruct the trustee to distribute assets in a measured fashion over an extended period of time.
This is just one example, but there are other estate planning devices that would satisfy different aims. The optimal course of action would depend upon the circumstances.
Aside from the above, even if a last will was the right document for you, Consumer Reports magazine recommended against do-it-yourself estate planning a couple of years ago. Legal professors examined last wills that were created using online tools, and they found flaws.
When you are talking about transferring everything that you have been able to accumulate throughout your life to those that you love the most, you may want to be absolutely certain that you are taking the right steps.
Schedule a Free Consultation
If you would like to discuss all of your estate planning options with a licensed professional, send us a message through our contact page to set up a free consultation: Campbell CA Estate Planning Attorneys.