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The Dangers Of A Do-It-Yourself Estate Plan

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Many seniors like the independence of doing things themselves and enjoy saving money in the process. However, your estate plan is definitely one area where you need a professional’s help, even if it costs a little bit of money to get it. Below are some of the landmines you can step on if you try to create your own estate plan.

You Might Forget Something

Retirees and other seniors have spent a lifetime accumulating property. Do you really know everything that you own? It isn’t surprising to have a bank account that you have forgotten about, or multiple retirement accounts from all of the jobs that you have worked during your life. By meeting with a lawyer, you can identify the entirety of your estate and carefully decide who to leave it to.

You Might Do More Harm than Good

 Even small estates are complicated. Ideally, you want to leave us much of your assets to people you care about without harming them financially. Consider the following:

  • If you have a disabled heir, they might lose out on important government benefits if you leave them assets in a will instead of in an appropriate special needs trust.
  • If you have lots of stock, you might increase the amount of taxes owed by cashing out the stock before you die. Instead, you might be better off leaving the stock to your heirs in a will.
  • If you have a large estate, you might increase the estate taxes your beneficiaries must pay if you do not structure your estate plan properly.

These are only some of the more common problems with DIY estate planning; there are many more. One benefit of meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney is that they can identify problems on the horizon and create an estate plan to minimize them.

You Might Not Create all of the Documents You Need

A comprehensive estate plan does more than simply create a will. Instead, you might also need to create other documents to fully prepare for the future. Consider the following:

  • Medical power of attorney. If you become incapacitated, someone will need to make medical decisions for you. A medical power of attorney can appoint an agent to do just that.
  • Financial power of attorney. This document allows someone to make financial decisions for you. For example, they can continue to pay bills when you are no longer able, and they can deposit your retirement checks or make other transaction.
  • A pet trust. Don’t leave assets to your pets in a will. Instead, you can create a pet trust to appoint someone to look after your loved ones when you pass. You can also leave assets for the upkeep and care of your pets.

 Put Your Trust in Us

Don’t leave your future to chance. At Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group in the Villages, our lawyers will carefully review your goals with you to come up with an estate plan that makes you comfortable. We are available for a free consultation by calling toll-free 800-743-9732.

Resource:

americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/law_trends_news_practice_area_e_newsletter_home/0501_estate_financialplanning.html

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