As a new year arrives, many people will resolve to finally complete an estate plan that they have had on the “back-burner” for ages. But please don’t rush to complete the forms you find online!
Many websites will offer customized do-it-yourself (“DIY”) documents. While they may seem convenient, quick, and inexpensive, their use could result in hefty legal expenses for your family.
One of my favorite Authors, James Clear, writes in his book Atomic Habits that in order to succeed, you need to take small steps to arrive at your goal. The same is true for creating your Estate Plans.
Although web services may seem an easy alternative, many questions require personal assistance. Many families fail to complete their wills and other planning documents because they are stunned by the number of questions they have and the enormity of the task. Parents wait until their youngest child is almost 18 years old because “we couldn’t agree on a guardian.” Or folks wait because they believe it will be too much work. To avoid being overwhelmed, you should break down the approach into step-by-step processes with the help of a professional.
Please read on if your goal is to avoid Probate, protect your children, keep family harmony, and avoid extra taxes or costs when you pass.
What is a “Will”? Contrary to popular belief, a will does not dispose of your assets independently. Without designated beneficiaries for every asset or entity, such as a Revocable Living Trust to control distributions, the will must be probated.
I call it a “Dear Judge Letter!”
What is Probate?Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering a deceased person’s assets, distributing them to beneficiaries, and paying their debts.
Why shouldn’t I use an online company?
Many people believe that online programs will prepare a legally enforceable document, but quite often create the opposite effect.
- You may not have properly followed the state law particulars in language and in the execution of the will, potentially invalidating it.
- Your DIY document may contain irregularities or errors, potentially disinheriting loved ones or invalidating the will.
- You may not have added potential tax exemptions or contingencies, leaving your family to pay more in estate tax.
- You may have forgotten to add your personal items, or only included personal items.
- You may have drafted a “Living Will” instead. A Living Will is the document that allows a hospital to remove life support without a court order or fear of liability.
This New Year, resolve to complete your estate plan. According to Author James Clear, by outlining a direct method of action and setting the day or time to do it, you simplify the task and follow through with it. So please put it on your calendar for January to get started on that estate plan. Hire an Estate Planning Attorney who can guide you through the process so you can rest easy knowing your plan will work; you’ll be thankful you did.
Andrea L. Jakob, PA is located at 12401 Orange Drive, suite 219 in Davie.
They can be reached at 954-862-1479 or on the web at www.jakoblegal.com.