Do you feel as if you are just a regular person and a simple, online, do-it-yourself template will suffice for an estate plan because you do not have any complicated assets and you expect to spend most of what you have in retirement? You may just plan to divide whatever is left over among your kids to give them a small gift after you are gone. Unfortunately, this can be trickier than it seems. If you try to DIY your estate plan and do not get any help from a qualified estate planning attorney, you could be making a major mistake when it comes to valuing and dividing your assets. Let us review three reasons why DIY estate planning can be risky for your assets.
1. You May Need Help Deciding What Is Considered Fair. If you have three kids, you might be wondering whether you should divide what you have equally among them, or divide them among your kids and your grandkids, or leave a little more to a child who has a career where they do a lot for others but will always have relatively low pay. These are all very common questions and there are no one-size-fits-all answers. An estate planning template may not do much to help you figure out what would work best for your family. On the other hand, a qualified estate planning lawyer can help you work through each issue and come to a decision.
2. You May Be Unsure of How Much Your Assets Might Be Worth. If you decide to leave specific assets to individual heirs, it may be a risk to do this by yourself without knowing the proper language to account for any changes in value over time that might lead you to make a different distribution of other assets to even things out. If you do not know what the value of any given asset will be at the time you pass away, it might be better to leave a lump sum or percentage to each person you would like to inherit your legacy. If you start picking specific accounts and stocks, the end result could be a beloved grandchild receiving $100 rather than $100,000 in extreme cases.
3. You May Not Know What to Do About Intangible Assets. You may have non-financial assets, with or without much value on the open market. It may be important to consider carefully who you want to leave each item to and why. An attorney might even ask you to write your reasons out in your will so that there are no hurt feelings among your heirs, which may not be something you might not consider doing if you go the DIY route.
For dedicated estate planning legal counsel that you can trust, our office is here for you. Please feel free to contact us to schedule a time to meet.