As an Atlanta area estate planning lawyer, I see many of the same estate planning mistakes made time and again by people who either fail to plan properly or who use “do-it-yourself” estate planning websites or forms in an effort to save money.
Without professional guidance, this can cause more problems for your heirs and end up depleting estate assets by far more than what you could potentially “save” by doing it yourself online.
A qualified Atlanta estate planning attorney can help you avoid these 10 common estate planning mistakes:
1. Failure to leave any written documentation of your assets, including a list of your online accounts and passwords
2. Failure to let family members know where to find important estate planning documents
3. Failure to name a guardian for minor children or choosing a guardian who lives far away without planning for temporary, local guardianship (solved with a comprehensive ProtectMyKids Plan)
4. Failure to name recipients for your personal possessions
5. Failure to designate beneficiaries for retirement and other financial accounts
6. Failure to name secondary beneficiaries
7. Failure to name alternative trustees or executors
8. Failure to properly fund or title assets to any trusts you have established
9. Failure to update your estate plan as life circumstances change
10. Failure to create an estate plan of any kind and instead leaving it to the court system to decide how your assets will be distributed
If you’d like to learn more about how to avoid common estate planning mistakes that could cost your heirs dearly, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next four people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call today and mention this article!
If you are beginning to think about how to manage your estate in the event that you become deceased or disabled, it may be tempting to turn to some of the many tools available online. Skilled wills and trusts lawyers will almost always advise against this, and it’s not because they’re trying to get your money.
While it’s possible that some online estate planning tools can work for your situation, it’s much more likely that you’ll end up trying to force your situation to fit their cookie-cutter approach. The end result is that no one truly gets what they need or want.
For example, the typical modern family can be pretty complicated. There may be step-parents, half-siblings, and multi-generational issues that are just more complex than what a simple web-based tool is prepared to help you create. Additionally, you may be limited in the number or types of trusts you can set up or how your will must be executed. Not only will you be unable to set up precisely what you want and need, but any ambiguity can also open your will up to being contested. At that point, your planning can become almost worthless as the estate can go into probate, racking up court and lawyers’ fees while potentially disregarding your actual wishes.
Instead, take the time to visit with a flesh-and-blood wills and trusts lawyer. Many even offer a free consultation to let you know what they can do for you and to give you a chance to ensure that you feel comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with checking out a couple of attorneys before making a decision, and you may even find that friends and family have some great recommendations for you based on their own experiences. Law, rules and procedures do vary, not only by state but also by county, so choose a wills and trusts attorney from the Marietta area to help ensure that your documents are going to hold up in Cobb County.
Online estate planning tools seem like they offer the world, but it’s really important to recognize their limitations. While they may be a bit less expensive than a wills and trusts attorney up front, they often cost so much more in the long run. Consider meeting with a lawyer to at least compare what you are able to get out of each scenario before making a decision about which method to use. There’s a good chance you will discover that it’s just hard to beat the flexibility and assurance that comes from working with a real professional.
Trusts lawyers in Atlanta are seeing a growing number of online websites offering Do-It-Yourself legal documents and estate-planning software.
Surprisingly, most attorneys will tell you that there are some everyday forms where this approach makes good sense. In fact, many law firms offer a selection of standard legal forms available for their clients’ use at no charge. However, when it comes to wills and trusts, a poorly executed document can cause more harm than doing nothing at all.
It’s important to realize that estate planning is a complex area of law, based on statutes that vary state by state and often change from one year to the next. Wills in this state have procedures and requirements that must be followed, and a wills lawyer in Atlanta knows what those stipulations are.
For example, all states require your will to be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses and they must sign in your presence and in the presence of each other. Something as seemingly trivial as improper witnessing procedure can result in the whole document being deemed null and void.
Wills and trusts aren’t merely about the distribution of the deceased’s funds either. Children are the most valuable “asset” of an estate, yet a recent survey found that nearly 3 out of 4 couples with minor children had made no provisions for legal guardianship of their children should an event claim both parents’ lives at the same time. This may be an unusual circumstance, but it is by no means a rare one. An experienced wills and trusts lawyer will prepare the proper documentation needed to insure the wishes of the parents are carried out that your DIY estate plan may miss.
Another danger inherent in DIY wills is that they give a person a false sense of security. An individual may think that his/her affairs are all in order when, in actuality, something of importance may have been left out or an area of the form filled out improperly. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all document that covers every situation. Online document mills are prohibited by law from dispensing legal advice, therefore they can not advise you of the forms you really need to protect your family and assets, nor will they represent you in court should it become necessary.
Sadly, DIY wills and trusts that are intended to save a few bucks can easily result in estate losses of tens of thousands of dollars. If you have a DIY will or trust, the most important thing you should do is have it reviewed by an experienced Atlanta wills and trusts attorney. Here at GeorgiaFamilyLaw.com : Worrall Law LLC, we will review your current estate planning documents free of charge so you can have the peace of mind knowing your family will be protected if the unthinkable happens.
Just call 770.425.6060 and ask to schedule a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session ($750 value). However, these sessions are limited each month so call today