Do I Need a Lawyer for Estate Planning?If you are considering estate planning, you may wonder whether you really need a California estate planning lawyer. You’ve probably seen the abundance of do-it-yourself wills on the Internet and think maybe you should just do it yourself and save some money. While there are a variety of things that lend themselves to DIY, estate planning is rarely one of them. You would probably not replace the brakes on your vehicle (unless you are a mechanic), likewise estate planning comes with complexities that DIY forms simply do not address. Further, when your life changes along the way, as our lives tend to do, an experienced estate planning attorney from Gullotta Law Group can help you make the necessary changes to your estate plan, so it always reflects your current situation. While there is certainly no shortage of DIY options for estate planning, there are many significant reasons why having a California lawyer assist you with your estate plan is the best course of action. These reasons include:
- Your estate planning attorney will be a highly trusted resource, able to comprehensively answer any questions you may have regarding your estate plan. In the event you are incapacitated or at the time of your death, your estate planning attorney will be able to help your loved ones, ensuring the smooth settlement of your estate, or administration of your trust.
- Your estate planning attorney will ensure you have all the necessary information you need to determine how you will title your assets and make beneficiary designations. While many people are under the belief that a trust will cover all assets, in fact, most life insurance benefits, as well as retirement accounts, pass independently of wills and trusts, unless specific steps are taken to ensure they work together. Your estate planning attorney will make specific recommendations regarding assets, accounts, property, and beneficiary designations.
- Your estate planning attorney will ensure your documents fully comply with California estate laws, since probate and trust laws are state-specific, and can change over time. You will have peace of mind in knowing that not only do your estate planning documents say what you want them to say, they will do the job they are meant to do—protect you and your assets in the event you are incapacitated, and ensure your assets go to those you choose. When preparing estate planning documents, even the smallest mistake can potentially skewer the entire document. If you are preparing the documents yourself, you likely would not even recognize an omission or mistake until it was too late.
- All your estate planning documents will be professionally prepared and executed. Not only will your estate planning documents be highly customized to your unique situation and goals, an estate planning attorney will also take care of the necessary witnesses and notarization.
- Your estate planning attorney will ensure your estate plan documents are updated when necessary. You may get married—or divorced. You could have a child, or your child or children may be leaving home and headed to college. You could have grandchildren you want to provide for. You could be at retirement age and need your estate plan to properly reflect your retirement goals. Your financial situation could significantly change. All of these changes would require changes to your estate plan as well. When you have an experienced California estate planning attorney taking care of things, you can be at ease, knowing your attorney will help you make changes when necessary. A change in your life circumstances could benefit from a simple codicil to a will or amendment to a trust. Other times, you may need to give your estate plan a bigger overhaul to minimize estate taxes or perhaps avoid probate.