How do you come up with your own estate plan? That said, the better question to ask might be, should you come with your own plan? While I personally agree that having some plan is better than having no plan at all…estate planning is a BIG area, full of pitfalls for the unwary.
When it comes to estate planning, plenty of folks might try the “do it yourself” method. Practical reasons like cheaper costs, available online services, or at-home software touting easy to use interfaces are among a few of the common answers we find. And while true, to a very small extent, most of the reasoning, in this author’s opinion, rings hollow.
For example, consider the following questions:
How could you know which powers to activate or withhold under a general durable power of attorney? What may seem obvious or well-intended now could become detrimental and limiting down the road.
What about a healthcare power of attorney? When does that take effect? Can your agent overrule you? How is competency determined?
Have you protected your home? Will it pass down to your loved one or be at risk to a creditor or a state agency? Will there be unintended tax consequences?
Do you know and understand the legal ramifications and the rules of construction in preparing your own legal documents?
How do you know what you’ve created will be effective when it is needed?
In reality, the big question is: How do you know what you don’t know? The answer is: you don’t. Even the internet has its limits and the last thing you want to do is roll the dice on something as important as your livelihood.
To that end, estate planning is concerned with planning for the disposition of assets during a person’s lifetime and after their death. It involves a complex set of laws and overlaps with a good number of other practice areas such as family, tax, and property law. It enables and empowers an individual to take control of their lives by predesignating decision-makers, protecting assets, and taking steps towards preserving a legacy. In sum, estate planning concerns itself with not only an individual’s livelihood, but the extent that a person’s livelihood is passed on to the next generation in accordance with their intent.
Taking the time to meet with an attorney that focuses in estate planning can be instrumental in creating a sound plan. The right attorney will serve as your guide and bring awareness to important topics you might not have even considered. The right attorney will start by listening to your concerns and stated goals. From there, a prudent discussion should be had about the applicable law, available legal tools, and the presentation of a comprehensive plan that meets a client’s objectives. If you’ve gotten this far, I would say you’re on the right track.
Take the time to invest, not only in yourself and your future, but your loved ones as well. Maybe your goal is simple. Maybe it’s to leave everything to your children in the most stress-free way possible. Good! Let’s talk about it. Maybe your plan is more complex and should consider certain provisions from the tax code. Good! Let’s talk about it. Maybe you’ve got an existing plan, but it needs some updating. Good! Let’s talk about it. Whatever the goal may be, the attorneys and team members at McIntyre Elder Law are ready to talk about it.
Reach out to our office at (704) 749-9244 or visit www.mcelderlaw.com to schedule your free consultation today.
Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney