Even the idea of estate planning can be a scary thing for many people. Many of us steadfastly try to avoid even thinking about it, as though the very act of contemplating our own demise can somehow hasten its coming. It’s no wonder then that so many people – more than half, by most estimates – don’t even have a Last Will and Testament. The fact is, though, that we all need some type of planning to protect ourselves, our interests, and our loved ones. The only real questions are what type of planning you need and whether you should create that plan on your own or rely on an Atlanta estate planning lawyer.
Why You Need Estate Planning
None of us live forever. When you have people who depend on you for their support, you have a responsibility to ensure that they are cared for properly in the event that something happens to you. Estate planning can be the most effective way to provide for that care, because it offers you an opportunity to organize your assets; create the tools needed to properly distribute them when you die; and plan for incapacity, retirement, business succession, and long-term care needs.
And remember, without an estate plan your heirs will receive inheritances based on statutory language rather than your express wishes. You might want to leave wealth to a child you’ve raised for a friend, but if that child was never adopted then state law wouldn’t recognize him or her as an heir. Those laws might also provide inheritances to family members you intended to ignore in your will or trust. In short, if you want to have a say in how your estate is distributed when you pass away, then you need an estate plan that expresses those wishes.
What Type of Estate Plan Do You Need?
There are a few specific tools that everyone should have in his or her estate plan. We all need a will, regardless of whether we also have living trusts. Even with a trust, you’ll still need a pour-over will to ensure that estate assets that never made it into your trust have a way of being transferred there when you die. In addition to a will, you may also want to consider whether you can benefit from a living trust. You can choose a revocable trust that allows you to retain control over your assets while you’re alive, or an irrevocable trust that can offer asset protection and other benefits.
In addition to wills and trusts, your estate plan should also include tools like a durable power of attorney and advance directive for health care to protect your interests if you ever become incapacitated. You may also want to consider other important planning areas, such as retirement planning, long-term care strategies, and business succession. Basically, any area of your financial life that could impact your legacy planning should be addressed with your estate plan.
Can You Create That Plan on Your Own?
If you spend any time examining your estate planning options online, it won’t be long until you run into some offer for a do-it-yourself will, trust, or power of attorney. These offers typically promote downloadable form documents as being just as effective as those designed by attorneys, and promise dramatic cost savings. Given our society’s DIY mindset, it’s no surprise that so many people opt to use these forms. But are they effective? Can you really handle these matters on your own?
Experience suggests that no DIY option is ever likely to produce the same type of quality results that you receive when you work with an experienced attorney. Many DIY wills and trusts require professional legal assistance at some point in the future, to correct structural defects or alter terms to ensure that they accomplish the goals for which they were designed. Moreover, many people who rely on these forms make mistakes that can invalidate the documents altogether.
Why You Need an Estate Planning Attorney
There are solid reasons for relying on an estate planning professional. In addition to preventing mistakes that can be made with DIY forms, a lawyer can help to ensure that your will, trust, or other planning tool conforms to state laws that govern such documents. He or she can better assess your unique circumstances and help you choose the right tools and strategies to meet your objectives. And it can often be more cost-effective to have an attorney create your plan now rather than being forced to retain an attorney to defend against a contested will or trust in the future.
An attorney can help to create the type of comprehensive estate plan that so many of us need to ensure that we properly address all the many end-of-life and legacy goals that allow us to protect our interests and our families. An experienced planning attorney can provide you with sound counsel as you select only those planning options you need to accomplish your objectives. Since comprehensive planning is about more than just deciding who gets what when you die, your reliance on an experienced professional can help to cover all your future needs in way that DIY efforts often fail to address.
Get the Help You Need
It’s never enjoyable to plan for our own deaths, but it is something that responsible people must do if we want to ensure that our affairs are settled the right way when we’re gone. When you rely on an Atlanta estate planning lawyer to help you with that process, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your planning is being handled in the most professional manner possible. At Fouts Law Group, LLC, our experienced estate planning experts can help to create the plan you need to gain the peace of mind you deserve. If you’re interested in learning more about why you should rely on our team to help you with all your estate planning needs, contact us online or give us a call at (404) 596-7520 today.
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