These days, it seems as though nearly everything can be done or found on the internet. Estate planning is no exception. There are a number of sites that offer seemingly simple and cheap solutions or step by step instructions for do-it-yourself wills and estate plans. However, important details may be overlooked and corners cut in the search for an easy or cheap solution.
A significant number of people in Massachusetts and across the country do not have a plan at all. Some believe that they don't have enough assets to warrant having a will or that their families will know what to do. Others rely on self-help websites to create a basic plan, which can be better than not having a plan at all because it can give the family and lawyers an idea of what the deceased might have wanted. Unfortunately, documents that are drawn up without consulting with a professional familiar with the process can often lead to mistakes.
Correcting these mistakes can become very time-consuming and expensive. One man thought that the estate plan he created using do-it-yourself software would be enough. Unfortunately, he did not give his executors access to enough money to pay his debts and taxes, which caused problems among his beneficiaries and also resulted in the accumulation of legal fees.
People today have a variety of options when it comes to estate planning. There are websites full of fill-in-the-blank forms that are simple and relatively cheap. However, many of these sites do not include legal advice from a professional familiar with the process. Others do include access to an attorney's advice for an additional fee or a subscription to a service.
Consulting with a local attorney familiar with the estate planning process in Massachusetts makes good sense for residents of this state. An attorney can help a client to ensure that all of the necessary paperwork is in place, correctly executed and preserved, and that the client's wishes are clearly communicated to the executor and beneficiaries. This may also help to prevent the family from having to enlist the help of additional attorneys.
Source: foxbusiness.com, "You can do your own estate plan, but should you?", Liz Weston, Feb. 5, 2018