Why Should You Involve An Attorney In Your Estate Planning?

Whether you're expecting your first child, recently received a sizable inheritance, or are planning to marry or remarry, you may have begun giving some thought to the distribution of your assets after death. The process of creating a will or a trust can seem simple enough, and you may be tempted to prepare and finalize these documents yourself, using information readily available on the internet or through your local library. However, this type of do-it-yourself estate planning can have potentially negative consequences for your surviving family members. Read on to learn more about the benefits an attorney can provide to your estate planning, as well as a few situations in which you may not need professional legal assistance.

Why do you need an attorney to help plan your estate?

Although there is quite a bit of legal and financial information available for free on the Internet, not all this information is accurate or up to date. Estate laws are very unique to each state, so if you're not searching for these specific laws, you may be making the wrong planning decision. If your will is not properly executed or violates state laws, it may be thrown out by the probate court -- meaning that your well-intentioned attempts to pass assets to certain family members can fail.

By consulting an attorney who is licensed in your state, such as Edward G. Foster, you can ensure that your hopes and plans for your assets and surviving family members will be valid and properly enforced. Your attorney can also talk situations out with you to ensure that you are minimizing any tax liability for your estate and helping your money go as far as possible. Often, the financial savings realized by using an estate attorney are substantially more than the fee you paid for preparation of your will or trust.

Are there any situations in which you don't need an attorney?

If you are single or happily married, child-free, and don't plan to make any posthumous donations to charity or other organizations, you may not yet need a will. Each state has its own laws governing the distribution of an adult's assets and debts upon death, called "intestate succession" laws. In most states, if you die without a spouse or children, your assets will pass on to your parents, siblings, or nieces and nephews in a certain order. If you're happy with how your assets would pass on under these laws, it's not necessary to have a will in order to confirm your decision. However, the intestate probate process is generally a bit lengthier than the process in place when a will is used.