The internet is full of “do-it-yourself” forms for estate planning and last wills. From cookie-cutter power of attorney documents to questionable last wills, these documents can lead some people into a false sense of security. In addition to potentially not standing up in court, homemade estate plans with boilerplate documents can also leave people vulnerable to common estate planning mistakes.
Working with an attorney to create a comprehensive estate plan can help you avoid potential pitfalls and protect your wishes for your legacy. The following four mistakes are common issues that could be avoided with experienced legal help.
You file the wrong paperwork or fill it out incorrectly
Legal paperwork isn’t known for being easy to fill out. On the contrary, it has a notorious reputation for confusing people. There are many different forms that you may have to create as part of a comprehensive estate plan.
Everything from the size of your family to the nature of your assets will impact what paperwork you will need with your estate plan. Trying to handle everything on your own could result in the creation of the wrong kind of trust or even a last will that the Washington probate courts won’t uphold.
You may realize you need to make changes when it’s too late
Family situations can change as the years go by, leading people to adjust and update their last will and estate plan. Whether you’ve acquired new assets or need to remove a beneficiary, making those changes helps to ensure that the courts will uphold your estate plan.
Unfortunately, when people experience a rapid decline in health, they may be physically or even legally unable to change their homemade estate plans. A lawyer who knows your wishes can guide you quickly through the process of updating your estate planning documents as necessary.
You don’t actually secure the outcome you think you did
There is a difference between the language you use in everyday life and the way that the courts interpret language. When you fill out and execute your own estate planning paperwork, you may phrase things in such a way that undermine your intent.
Especially if you have complex assets or tax concerns, careful planning is key. Minor mistakes in the formation of a trust could leave your loved ones and heirs saddled with a substantial tax burden or unable to access important assets for months. Having someone there to draft and then review your documents and the language used can protect you from oversights or mistakes that could impact the administration of your estate.
You make mistakes that cost a lot more to fix later
The mistakes you make now could leave your legacy unfulfilled. Even if you realize that changes are necessary, the costs involved in restructuring a trust, for example, could wind up being greater than the costs of getting professional help from the start and doing it correctly the first time.
Why leave your last wishes vulnerable to challenges? If you intend to take the time and effort to create an estate plan, it makes sense to create a thorough plan that will stand up to scrutiny and properly enshrine your wishes and legacy.