Avoiding Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning

Avoid do-it-yourself estate planning. Most people miss out on important tax and money saving strategies when they draft their own documents through software companies like LegalZoom or Quicken Lawyer. Worse, some people try to write their own Will, Deeds, and Powers of Attorney. More often than not, it ends up in a lawsuit, or at best, the estate is not distributed as the person hoped. Few understand what documents they need and how best to use them to their advantage. Seek professional legal advice to save yourself time and money. If you are a senior, then instead of seeing an “estate planning attorney,” seek an elderlaw attorney who does asset protection in their estate planning.

Occasionally, we see clients who have attempted their own planning. Oftentimes, it costs clients far more money for us to fix their mistakes than if they had obtained professional advice at the outset. Recently, a well-educated client of ours created his own trust, deed, and will. Unfortunately, all of his documents were copied from a bad template. Our client’s Will left his property in trust at death. However, his family was unable to find his trust, which rendered his Will useless. The daughter of this do-it-yourself “lawyer” was another do-it-yourselfer; like Father, like daughter. She attempted to transfer his property to herself, who deeded it to herself with his “home-made” power of attorney. Unfortunately, her father’s power of attorney did not allow her to make these types of transfers. This rendered them ineffective, resulting in the need for an intestate probate of his property (the process used for those who die without a will). This example illustrates the importance of seeking good legal advice in lieu of attempting your own estate planning.

Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all planning. Today, people live very complicated lives. As a result, simple documents are not right for everyone, especially seniors. If you or your loved ones need assistance with your planning, consider W.G. Alexander & Associates – we are experienced attorneys who offer a unique blend of asset protection, Elderlaw and estate planning. You can also attend our free seminars, learn more through our website at www.wgalaw.com, or call us at (919) 256-7000.

Attorney Bill Alexander discusses these issues and more every Tuesday morning on W.G. Alexander & Associates’ radio program, “Asset Protection Today,” on TalkRadio 850 WPTK (AM). Be sure to listen from 9:00-10:00 AM.