Online or DIY rather than professionals
There has been a noticeable uptick in the number of people who will look to the Internet to prepare their own wills and trusts. There are dozens upon dozens of websites that will profess to offer you just the right discounted estate planning documents. Even wealthy clients who stand to benefit the most from expert planning advice have been impacted. Unfortunately, relying on web-based, do it yourself solutions is a recipe for disaster. Estate planning documents should represent the culmination of a well thought out financial and estate plan. An amalgam of stand-alone documents does not a plan make. Furthermore, those pesky nuanced requirements (i.e. the “formalities”) for a validly written and executed document will vary from state to state. Internet sites can provide you with documents but no actual advice that fits you in the context of your specific financial and personal life. What happens when the laws change? Does the document create an unnecessary tax if the state and federal tax laws diverge substantially? Also, use an experienced estate attorney. All wills are perfect documents while they are in your desk drawer. Only when examined post-mortem are the inadequacies revealed.
David Wingate is an elder law attorney practicing in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. The elder law practice includes wills, trusts, powers of attorneys, living wills, asset protection and Medicaid (Medical Assistance).