There is no easy way out, certainly no simple way out, when it comes to estate planning.
As the American Bar Association website points out, in all likelihood the do-it-yourself estate planner has a client who could use better advice.
“It is easy to be lured by advertisements claiming you can save time and money by drafting your own will or trust using do-it-yourself websites, retail software or fill-in-the-blank will or trust kits from the bookstore,” the site states “It is unlikely that these alternatives will generate a suitable plan that accomplishes all of your objectives. Only a qualified trusts and estates lawyer can interpret the myriad laws bearing on property rights, taxes, wills, probate, and trusts. More important, canned programs and forms cannot provide the wide range of legal advice to assure that the form is correct, that assets passing outside of your will or trust are properly handled, that state law nuances are taken into account, or that relevant tax, legal and personal issues are properly addressed.”
Far from being the more expensive option, the ABA says consulting an attorney can actually be the less costly alternative in the long run.
“On the other hand, you can save time and money by preparing for a meeting with your estate planning lawyer. You can organize your information regarding your assets, liabilities, and title arrangements and think about your feelings regarding providing for various family members. Most lawyers practicing in this area have questionnaires that will help you with this process. You should take with you copies of important documents such as previous wills or trusts, powers of attorney, life insurance policies, employment benefits, and prenuptial agreements and divorce decrees.”