There numerous areas in your life where you can save money by “doing it yourself.” However, estate planning is one area where DIY can cost you more than you might expect. Each state has very specific laws that apply and the process can be quite complex. Our experience with DIY wills or trusts has been uniformly bad. They may be good forms fundamentally, but the lack of understanding of terminology and lack of experience with the forms or estate planning concepts generally, often results in a bad document.
Most people fear that creating an estate plan will be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep in mind that “expensive” is a relative concept. If you have hundreds of thousands or even millions in assets, spending a few thousand dollars to make sure the assets transfer according to your wishes is a very modest cost. You can also create your plan in steps and following these three tips may help to lower your legal fees:
- Get organized. Before you attend your initial consultation with your estate planning lawyer, get your documents and records organized. This includes creating a comprehensive list of all of your assets and all of your liabilities and debts. You will want to decide who your beneficiaries will be as well as who you want to appoint as your personal representative or trustee. If you have minor children, you should decide who you will want to appoint as the guardian of your minor children if you should become incapacitated or die. Finally, consider who you will appoint to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so for yourself. Don’t be surprised when your experienced estate planning attorney gives you guidance that causes you to change your mind as you formulate your plan. That is the benefit of using someone who understands this area of law. They can see things you don’t.
- Keep it straightforward. If you can keep your estate plan simple, it can save a lot of money. Also, the more complex your estate plan is, the more expensive it will likely be to maintain as time passes.
- Maintenance. It is important to review your estate plan each year and to make any necessary changes as you discover them while they are minimal and not as expensive. If you wait several years before reviewing your estate plan, making the necessary updates could be more costly.
Having a comprehensive estate plan can save you and your family money in a variety of ways. We can help you avoid costly estate taxes and create asset protection strategies. To learn more about how we can assist you, schedule your initial consultation.
The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.