You would never attempt to draw up a legally binding contract without the assistance of a licensed attorney. Yet, there are those who are under the impression that they don’t need to retain the services of an estate planning attorney when they are executing estate planning documents and this is a big mistake.
Back in the old West, you might be able to scribble down a last will directing the distribution of your horse, saddle, six-shooter and saddle bag and leave it with the saloon keeper. However, these days your estate must pass through the process of probate if you use a last will to direct the transfer of your assets.
The probate court has somewhat different expectations depending on the jurisdiction within which you reside. So if you just download and fill out a generic template document off the Internet at the encouragement of an Internet marketer, you are taking quite a risk considering the stakes involved.
In addition to the above consideration, a last will isn’t the only way to transfer assets to your family members. The aforementioned probate process can carry some significant pitfalls along with it. Probate can be costly, it is time-consuming, and it provides a forum for those who may want to contest your wishes.
As a result a lot of people decide to arrange for the distribution of assets to their heirs outside of the process of probate. The best way to do this is not the same for every individual. What you intend to accomplish with your legacy and the specific nature of your assets will dictate the optimal course of action.
Clearly, it takes expertise to evaluate an estate and craft a personalized plan. The only way this can be done effectively is with the assistance of an experienced, dedicated, and licensed estate planning attorney.