23rd Nov 2012
There are many people out there who enjoy doing things themselves. They may prefer to do their own work around the home instead of hiring a handyman, for example to fix things.
One thing that you must keep in mind, or at least it is something I have found when I did things myself that I was not an expert in, is that you should expect to make mistakes which in the end may cost more time and money than you expected.
With that being said there are a lot of books, CDs, templates and do-it yourself estate planning materials out there with a lot of great and even useful information. Many of these can be found by state as laws change from state to state.
One caveat that typically applies though is you get what you pay for. The same is true in estate planning. This is often also true with legal documents such as wills and trusts which oftentimes do not “speak” until the author is deceased or incapacitated. Because of this fact, if we use a handyman as an example, when you do it yourself you will often need to buy double the building materials. However, if those materials break down or if a wall is improperly built, it can be torn down and redone. A will on the other hand, if it fails to state the intent of the author, there is often no opportunity for a second try. This is when you see cases where the author of the will or trust is incapacitated or deceased, the planning “solution” either fails, or has completely unexpected and unwanted consequences.
When this happens, the estate may need to be overseen by the court in a process known as probate, which will typically cost more time and money. Again, you get what you pay for.
When you are in the process of selecting an attorney to help you with your will or trust, make sure you find someone who has been in practice for a long time, has a good reputation and is willing to do a free consultation with you so that he/she may answer all of your questions.
You will need someone who is well versed in any recent changes to the law as they pertain to estate planning and probate procedures as there are often changes that occur year after year.