If you are beginning to recognize the fact that you should have an estate plan in place you are probably going to start where most people do by doing some research on the Internet. There is a lot of good information to be found for sure, but you have to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately there are some self-serving Internet marketers who will lure you in with the suggestion that estate planning is something that you can do for yourself. That is, if you buy the generic template documents that they are selling.
The reality is that there is no true one-size-fits-all estate planning document. Most of these do-it-yourself estate planning kits and software programs are going to provide a generic last will template, and when you use a will to transfer assets your estate must pass through the process of probate. The probate or surrogate courts are different in each jurisdiction around the United States. So ideally you would want to craft your will with the realities of your local probate court in mind, and of course no one generic fill-in-the-blanks document can be targeted toward every jurisdiction.
Plus, each family situation is unique. People who would want to challenge your will could do so in probate court. Is the verbiage of this generic document specific and pointed enough to withstand a challenge to your will? And in addition, a last will is not your only choice as a vehicle of asset transfer and in many cases it is not the best choice.
Your legacy is something that is precious, the final opportunity that you will have to provide for those that you love the most. This is not something to trust to an anonymous Internet marketer. If you are interested in learning about estate planning, do yourself and your family a favor and arrange for a consultation with an experienced legacy planning attorney.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.