US News & World Report’s recent article entitled “Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning Mistakes” provides some issues that do-it-yourself estate planners might encounter and why it is best to consult an experienced estate planning attorney. According to Beck & Lenox Estate Planning & Elder Law, LLC, the question, “Should I create my own estate plan?” is generally answered, “We would not advise it.”
What are the Right Questions to Ask? Completing a simple and straightforward form—like a beneficiary designation for your IRA— is one thing, but what about tax consequences, probate law, new legislation and court procedures? Are you ready to take these on? The trick is that you may not know what you don’t know. That’s why it is money well-spent to employ the services of an experienced estate planning attorney.
Is My Situation Complex? Likewise, you may have property and assets all over the country (or world) that require expert advice. You must be certain that your planning, tax planning and financial planning all work together because they’re all interrelated. If you only work on one of these areas at a time, you may create complications in another area and unintentionally increase your expenses or taxes. It can also create headaches and expense for your heirs. If you have a child with special needs, a blended family, or want to control how and where a beneficiary spends your money, a cookie cutter approach won’t do. An experienced estate planning attorney would be able to advise you in all these areas.
What are the Probate Laws in My State? Estate planning laws and taxes are different in each state. Your state will have different rules and legal procedures for creating and administering an estate. There are many different state laws that govern inheritance taxes. There are 17 states plus DC that tax your estate, inheritance or both, and the tax laws can affect your situation when planning. Eleven states plus DC have only an inheritance tax. One state taxes both inheritances and estates. With the incoming administration, there will very likely be tax changes.
If you mess up your estate planning documents, it could cause significant problems for your family. If you ask yourself, “Should I create my own estate plan?”, your best answer would be to work with an experienced estate planning attorney in your state. Beck & Lenox offers free consultations so that you can come and get a better understanding of why a DIY project like estate planning is likely not the right answer for you.
Reference: US News & World Report (Dec. 18, 2020) “Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning Mistakes”