Can't I just use a website or software to create my estate plan?
One of the main functions of an estate plan is to minimize expense and effort when a person is incapacitated or dies. However, minimizing the expense up front by only considering cost alone will often place a person or their assets in probate court due to a poorly written estate plan. An experienced attorney who has handled probates and knows how to avoid them can be a key resource for you and your family as you make this investment in your future.
Using websites or software can allow individuals to insert words and phrases that destroy the ability of the document to do its job. Even when seemingly correct, these documents can’t handle the contingency plans written into a quality estate plan. Every element that might be misaligned with the other parts of the plan threatens to destroy its efficiency. Even the best designed software is no substitute for the benefits of an ongoing, personal relationship with your own attorney.
ACHIEVING A GOOD OUTCOME
Proper estate planning involves a plan that is carefully designed to meet your goals. It requires a cooperative effort between you, your attorney, and other appropriate members of your estate planning “team,” such as a financial planner, a life insurance agent, and a CPA. The plan should not be thought of as a product-oriented series of individual transactions, but rather a “team effort” to provide a comprehensive evaluation and subsequent development of a plan to protect you and your loved ones into the future.
EVOLVING OVER TIME
The development of your estate plan is an ongoing process that evolves as your needs, goals, and family change, as the laws change, and as new estate planning tools and techniques are developed. It is a process of continually evolving entrance, growth, maintenance, and exit strategies. Proper planning requires professional thoroughness that respects the overall well-being of you and your family.
Your goals should include the following:
- Control of your assets during your life.
- A business exit strategy if you have an ownership interest in a business.
- Providing instructions for your care and the management of your assets for you and your family if you become incapacitated.
- Protecting the assets you leave your spouse, children or other beneficiaries from creditors and unscrupulous persons.
- Developing a plan of distribution that will leave your assets to whom you want, when you want, and with whatever controls you want.
- Avoiding probate.
- Saving the greatest amount of taxes and post-death administrative costs possible – not only in your own estate, but in the estates of your spouse and your descendants.