Who needs an estate plan?
If you own anything of value, have people who depend on you for part or all of their living expenses or care about what happens to you if you become sick or incapacitated — you need an estate plan. The question is how simple or complex your estate plan needs to be? If you have minimal assets and no dependent children, then a simple Will and health proxy may suffice. But, it’s more likely that you’ll need an estate plan that is broader in scope to adequately protect you.
Can I create my own estate plan?
Anyone can create their own estate plan. But, like trying to sell your own home or deciding how to invest in the stock market, some things are best left to professionals. Creating your own estate plan takes a significant time commitment, requires reading lots of books (some good, some bad, some outdated) and demands vigilance in monitoring your plan to ensure it accommodates changes in your financial and personal situations; as well as changes to tax and probate law.
Why use an estate attorney?
Estate law is an art, as well as a science. A good estate lawyer stays current with the ever-changing rules, regulations and laws governing estates, understands the unique situation of each client and applies the then prevailing statutes in ways that maximize the benefit to the client. A good lawyer not only knows the law but can artfully use it to the meet the needs and desires of the client.
The old saying, “pennywise and pound foolish”, aptly applies to creating an estate plan. Properly prepared, your estate plan can save you thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees, probate costs and estate taxes.