With so many resources available on the internet, you may be tempted to turn to online forms and will kits for your estate planning needs. But ask yourself these five questions first….
1. Do you have children?
Parents with minor children have specific challenges in estate planning – not only in naming a guardian for their children, but in making sure they have tools in place to handle the transfer of property and more.
2. How much property do you own?
If you do not own a home or have a retirement account, and you own a limited amount of personal property – a basic will may fit your needs and an online form may work just fine for your circumstances. Anything more than that, you should consider working with an estate planning attorney.
3. Are you considering a trust?
A trust allows property to avoid probate, and a living trust can provide a method to manage your assets in the event of incapacitation. If you are interested in learning more about trusts and how they can benefit your estate plan, you should work with an estate planning attorney.
4. Do you have any specific family issues that need to be addressed – such as a second marriage, children from a previous relationship or a special needs family member?
Special family circumstances may make it important for you to consult an estate planning attorney. For example, if you have a child with special needs and you want to make sure that the child will benefit from your estate without interrupting any public benefits they may have, then you should consult an attorney.
5. Do you understand the legal requirements for wills and can you comply with them?
It’s one thing to create a will, another to properly execute a will. Each state has its own requirements for the proper execution of wills. If you use an online will form or follow a do it yourself legal kit, then you will need to make sure the will is properly executed according to state law.
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