To many people, an estate plan is something they believe only the elderly and the rich need. You may believe that if you are young and have modest assets that there is no need for you to create an estate plan. However, creating an estate plan is something that is critical for all adults to do as it will not only ensure that your affairs are handled in the way you wish when you are gone, but more importantly, it will also ensure that things are as easy as possible for your family during an already difficult time.
Yet, creating an estate plan is not as simple as merely writing your own will, as a lot of planning must go into creating a thorough estate plan that will hold up in court. While the age of DIY and YouTube tutorials make many people believe they can handle their own estate plan, it is critical that you hire an experienced attorney to help you set up an estate plan. Whether you are just now considering establishing an estate plan or this is something you have been considering doing for a while, here are just a few of the reasons why you should work with a lawyer when estate planning.
You Need More Than a Will
A common misconception people have is that all you need to do is to write down a will, as many people use the terms “will” and “estate plan” interchangeably; however, this is incorrect. While a will is often part of an estate plan, an estate plan is a set of legal documents that prepare for your death or disability. These documents outline how you will be taken care of should you fall ill, who will be in charge of your affairs in the event of your injury or death, and how your property should be dividing upon your passing (among other things). Developing an estate plan is complex, and it can be difficult to do so without professional guidance, as what needs to be included in your estate plan will depend on your unique situation. An experienced attorney can help walk you through this process and help you develop an estate plan that will meet your needs.
Save Time and Stress
Due to the complex nature of creating an estate plan, trying to go through this process on your own can be extremely difficult. Unless you have experience working with legal documents and terminology, you may find yourself quickly overwhelmed by the entire process of creating an estate plan, and you may find yourself spending countless hours stressing over this difficult task. It can then be worth it to seek legal guidance simply due to the burden this can remove from your shoulders. An experienced attorney can help walk you through this process and take care of much of the leg-work for you, ensuring everything is handled properly and in a timely manner.
Navigating Special Circumstances
While creating an estate plan can be difficult enough, this process will be even more complex for people who have unique circumstances. For instance, while many people choose to divide their assets up equally amongst their children, some people may choose to give a different amount to different children. Additionally, some people may choose to hold assets in a trust until the beneficiary meets certain conditions. Any special requests you may have will make the estate planning process more complicated, making it important that you consult a legal professional. It is also critical that you consult an attorney before estate planning if you own a business, you have minor children, you want to leave a portion of your estate to charity, or if you have been married multiple times, as all of these circumstances can complicate the estate planning process.
You May Make Costly Mistakes
One of the most common reasons why people choose to attempt DIY estate planning, or why some people choose to forgo estate planning entirely, is as a means to save money; however, this often ends up having the opposite result. While professional estate planning will cost money, many people choose to see this as an investment in the future of their estate. This is due to the fact that without a proper estate plan, you or your estate may end up paying more in the long-run due to court costs, extra taxes, and the process of going through probate. An experienced attorney can help you to develop an estate plan that will help to save your estate as much money as possible, saving you money in the long-run.
A Professional Perspective
Not only will a legal professional bring experience that will ensure that the estate planning process goes smoothly, but they will also bring a unique, objective perspective. The fact is that estate planning can be a difficult and emotional process; however, you do not want to make quick and emotional decisions regarding your estate that you may later regret. A lawyer can help bring a fresh perspective, and they will be able to give you unbiased advice that will help you to make smart decisions during this difficult process.
You Have One Shot to Get it Right
Perhaps the most important reason to consult an attorney when creating an estate plan is to ensure that everything is done right. The fact is that with estate planning, you really only have one shot to get it right. If you attempt to create an estate plan by yourself and you make a mistake or forget a signature, your family may find that part (or all) of your will, trust, or power of attorney is not valid, which can make things complicated and negate the purpose of you having spent so much time creating an estate plan in the first place. However, an attorney will have experience creating estate plans, and they know where to look for potential mistakes and loopholes in your estate plan. By working with an attorney you will be ensuring that everything is handled properly and that your estate encounters as few problems as possible after you pass.
Estate planning is complex, and ensuring everything is done right requires the guidance of an experienced attorney. If you are considering creating an estate plan in Montana, contact us to find out more about the estate planning process as well as to find out about how we can help you to ensure that your affairs are in order.