Why You Need an Estate Planning Attorney (Yes, Even You!) - Wylkan Estate Planning & Certified Elder Law

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Why You Need an Estate Planning Attorney (Yes, Even You!)

March 21, 2024

Let's start with a thought experiment. Imagine this scenario: you're having a casual conversation with some friends or family members when someone asks, "So, do you have an estate plan in place?"

What's your instinctive reaction?

Many people might laugh it off, thinking, Well of course not, I'm not a millionaire! Or brush it aside by saying, "I'm too young to worry about that stuff." If those are your knee-jerk responses, you are certainly not alone. Estate planning is one of those things that many assume only really wealthy senior citizens need to worry about.

But here's the reality - estate planning is too important to procrastinate, no matter how young or old someone is, and no matter how modest or extensive their assets may be. It's about protecting loved ones and making sure final wishes are properly mapped out and legally enforceable.

And as we'll explain, doing it yourself with online templates or assumptions is just asking for trouble down the road. You need the professional guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney.

What's So Complicated About a Will?

You may be thinking, Why does estate planning have to be such a big production? I just need a simple will leaving my stuff to my kids, right?

Not so fast. While a will is certainly part of a comprehensive estate plan, it's hardly the entire picture. An estate attorney will ensure all the other critical components are in place too, like

  • revocable and irrevocable trusts to efficiently distribute assets,
  • a durable power of attorney to manage finances if incapacitated,
  • medical powers of attorney and living wills to ensure healthcare wishes are followed,
  • beneficiary designations aligned with the overall plan, and
  • guardianship arrangements for minor or special-needs children.

There's a lot more to estate planning than just a basic will. This stuff can get complicated quickly, with many potential pitfalls if not executed accurately by a professional. State laws governing estates and trusts vary widely too - what may be legitimate in one state could be inadvertently invalidated if someone moves across state lines.

Do You Really Want to Roll the Dice?

When you consider how complex and nuanced estate planning can be, it's easy to see why doing it yourself is a terrible idea. There are many horror stories of what can go wrong with online "Do-It-Yourself" wills and trust docs:

  • mistakes or lack of clarity that open the door for bitter family feuds ending up in court
  • improperly funded trusts that become useless
  • unintended tax burdens that drain the estate's value
  • failure to plan for incapacity, resulting in costly guardianship/conservatorship battles
  • overall lack of legal protections that undermine the entire estate plan

All because the well-intentioned person thought, How hard can this be? I'll just use an online template.

Rolling the dice on your family's security like that is unwise and can actually make things much more complicated for your loved ones.

What if your situation is a bit more unique than just leaving assets to adult children? Blended families, special needs beneficiaries, real estate holdings, business ownership - all of these scenarios (and many more) require a customized, carefully crafted plan. There's simply no one-size-fits-all formula that can properly account for each person's goals and situation.

Maximizing What You Pass On

An area where a good estate attorney is worth their weight in gold is developing tax optimization strategies to maximize the assets and wealth that can be passed onto loved ones. This includes sophisticated tools like

  • trusts to mitigate or circumvent estate taxes,
  • gifting strategies to remove assets from the future taxable estate,
  • qualified personal residence trusts to restore full tax advantages on home transfers, and
  • family limited partnerships and other entity structures.

An estate planning attorney lives and breathes these kinds of strategies. They keep obsessively updated on the latest federal and state tax code changes too. Why try to navigate that legal labyrinth yourself?

Don't Wait for a Crisis

Another major reason to work with an estate attorney? Preparing for potential mental incapacity. None of us like to dwell on scary scenarios like that, but getting affairs properly structured now can save massive headaches later.

With a comprehensive power of attorney and living will/advance directive components in the plan, wishes can be clearly specified if someone were to become incapacitated. This avoids painful court battles where a judge assigns guardians/conservators to make decisions that may contradict what the person would want.

Procrastination on this issue can have devastating consequences. Stories exist of 82-year-old clients coming in after being hospitalized - their kids were forcing them into a nursing home against their wishes because preferences for long-term care were never documented. Talk about a nightmare scenario that could have easily been avoided!

So the takeaway here isn't "Wait until you're in crisis mode to do estate planning." It's "Get this locked down NOW when you're of sound mind and body."  

The Personalized Partner You Need

At this point, it should be clear that some form of estate planning is non-negotiable, and going the DIY route is a terrible idea that can really come back to bite you. So where does an estate planning attorney come into the picture?

While there's certainly an upfront cost involved in the attorney's services, investing in having a professional to do this right the first time is one of the smartest, most cost-effective investments someone can make for their family's future. Attorneys bring a personalized, human touch that an online template can never replicate.

A good estate attorney takes a genuine interest in learning the unique goals, situation, family dynamics, and vision for how the client wants their legacy handled. They have the expertise to look at the full financial picture with caring eyes and construct a rock-solid, tax-efficient, worry-free estate plan customized just for that individual.

Then going forward, the attorney isn't going anywhere! They are a trusted partner through all of life's inevitable changes and updates. Had a new grandchild? The beneficiary docs will be revised. Relocated across state lines? They'll ensure the plan is still fully valid. Sold the vacation home? The trust will be adjusted accordingly.

Having a professional by your side provides the ultimate security blanket - knowing affairs are legally structured to maximize protection for loved ones exactly as you'd want. What could be more important than that? Forget online templates or duct-taping things together yourself. Having an experienced, dedicated estate attorney on your team is truly priceless.

If the topic of estate planning gives you anxiety or makes you drag your feet, that's understandable. But take a pause and think deeply about how much you value the well-being and care of your family even after you're gone. Get started on a proper estate plan now with a qualified attorney - your future self and loved ones will be immensely grateful.

Our team here at the Wylkan Law Office specializes in estate planning and elder law, and we are ready to help you create your comprehensive estate plan. 

So don’t procrastinate.  Attend an upcoming workshop to take the first easy step forward. 

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1243 Napoleon Street
Fremont, OH 43420
Phone: (800) 635-1355
Fax: (419) 332-5253

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