Estate planning can feel overwhelming. Not only do you have to write a will and have it legally recognized, but you also have to decide if trusts or other types of estate accounts are a better fit for your assets. What’s more, estate planning law is often complex, with precise guidelines and specifications for different types of assets. Yet, despite these difficulties, many people wonder if they can create their own Folsom, California, estate plan. Often, individuals believe that they can save a bit of money and handle the process on their own.
Despite the plethora of information and resources available online, planning your own estate is not recommended. There is too much at stake and too many things that can go wrong for most individuals to reasonably be able to set up their estate. Instead, think of your estate as replacing your home’s roof. Technically you could do the job on your own, but more things can go wrong than things can go right.
DIY Minimizes Your Assets
As we mentioned, estate law is complicated. This area is so niche that many attorneys don’t know the intricacies of the laws unless they have focused on estate law in their careers. For example, there are subtle differences between types of accounts and ways to maximize your beneficiaries’ cuts while minimizing the chance of going through probate court. It is unlikely that you will be able to recognize these situations on your own, and many types of will-building software won’t catch them either.
When you work with an estate attorney, you have full access to a professional who can point you in the right direction for your unique circumstances. We can help you arrange your assets while you are living so that they work to your family’s benefit when you pass.
DIY Is Difficult to Understand
As we’ve mentioned, there are lots of small and intricate details involved in estate planning. While DIY books and programs may spell them out for you clearly, they can still be challenging to understand. The fact of the matter is that this material is just hard, and many people feel lost when they research it on their own.
This should not be a discouragement, however. Whether you are trying to create an estate plan on your own or working with an experienced attorney, it is never a bad idea to do some research. Basic knowledge of terms and concepts in estate law can help your conversations with your lawyer go more smoothly and gives you more opportunities to make informed and empowered choices about your family’s future.
DIY Programs Are Limited
If you opt to use computer programs to create an estate, you should know that the capabilities are somewhat limiting. While some programs can handle diverse estates, others cannot. This can make it challenging to get everything done in one place. As a result, you may need to purchase and maintain several programs if you plan to do it independently.
Carrying Out Your Plan
When you create a will or an estate with a professional, you know that there will be someone who has access to your will and your wishes and can take the first steps in carrying them out. In many cases, your attorney keeps a copy of your will and can help your family with the first steps after you pass.
If you choose to use an online system or computer program, make sure that your family has access to all passwords, instructions, and documents that you’ve created. Print everything, and leave all of the login information with your executor. If you do not, your will could be difficult to find. In some cases, families can never track down a will, especially if the deceased did not tell them that they used computer software.
One of the biggest roadblocks to carrying out your wishes and estate plan is probate court. This court is in charge of making sure that all of your taxes and debts are settled. If you owe a lot in back taxes or have significant debts, this court can take a significant amount of money from your beneficiaries’ inheritances.
This court process is also in charge of naming an executor if you have not named one in your will. This person will carry out your wishes and make sure that everything is in order. If no will is found, or you did not have a will, the court will likely give all assets to your next of kin. If you have not named an executor or your executor is deceased or unable to carry out your wishes, the court will name someone else.
Probate court can last months, if not years, depending on court availability, the number of assets you have, the clarity of your instructions, and the amount of debt you have. In some states, this process is unavoidable. However, in many situations, you can restructure your assets while you are living to limit the number of assets that go through probate court. This means that your beneficiaries can get at least some of their inheritance right away, and it ensures that at least some of your assets are going to them and not to taxes.
However, restructuring can be complex, especially if you are trying to do it on your own. An experienced estate attorney is highly recommended if you wish your family to avoid probate court after you pass.
Contact McCunn Law
Here at McCunn Law, we have been helping our clients reach the best possible outcomes for their estates for nearly 50 years. Our firm has extensive resources and understanding at our disposal and can help to make your estate planning process easy and reliable. Though no one likes to think about death, we can help make sure that the estate planning process is approachable and that you are creating a successful plan for your loved ones. There is no greater act of love than this.
For more information or to get started, contact us online today.