Do You Need a Lawyer to Make an Estate Plan?
Your estate plan is a set of legal documents that accomplishes important goals during your life and after you pass away. If you do not have an estate plan, Arizona laws make critical decisions for you — and the statutes and courts can make decisions that are inconsistent with your wishes. While online services want you to think that you can create an estate plan without assistance from a lawyer, taking the do-it-yourself approach can have significant adverse consequences for you and your family. There are many reasons why you should never create or sign estate planning documents without assistance from an experienced estate planning attorney.
Identifying Your Estate Planning Goals
One of the most important parts of the estate planning process is identifying your estate planning goals, so you can create an estate plan that accomplishes those goals. Trying to identify your goals on your own is very difficult, especially if you do not know what estate planning options and tools are available, and which ones apply to your situation.
Your personal and financial circumstances play a significant role in determining your estate planning goals. For that reason, every estate plan is as unique as the individual who creates it. An estate planning lawyer begins by getting to know you and understand your personal and family circumstances, as well as your financial situation and short- and long-term goals. Based on that information, your attorney helps you formulate your goals and then explains estate planning options and alternatives that can help you achieve those goals.
For example, your goals may include taking care of your children and grandchildren, avoiding probate, resolving potential family conflicts, giving to your favorite charitable organizations, protecting your digital assets, making certain that your wishes are implemented and your finances managed properly in the event of your temporary or permanent incapacity, including your business in your estate plan, or establishing a living trust and ensuring that your trust is properly funded. Those are just some of the many important goals that you can accomplish with a complete, properly prepared estate plan.
Whatever your estate planning goals may be, an estate planning lawyer helps you identify them and then assists you in creating an estate plan that includes valid legal documents to fully accomplish all your important goals for yourself and your loved ones.
Preparing Your Estate Planning Documents
A complete estate plan consists of a group of legal documents, each of which accomplishes a specific purpose. Every document is subject to specific requirements in Arizona law. If a document does not meet those requirements, it may not be legally valid and not recognized by a court. An estate planning attorney has the professional training, skill, and knowledge to make certain that every document you include in your plan complies with all applicable legal requirements.
After you establish your estate planning goals, your attorney helps you make important decisions about your estate plan, such as whether you can benefit from including a trust in your estate — because a trust is not right or necessary for every individual and every estate plan. Without legal help, you can make several different kinds of mistakes with legal documents, such as choosing the wrong documents for your situation or omitting necessary documents that are essential to a complete estate plan.
Consistency of your documents is another important consideration. If you make your own documents, your documents may be inconsistent with each other. If that happens, the inconsistency in your estate planning documents can create substantial legal problems that may not be identified until it is too late to fix them. Consistency is not an issue when you get assistance from a knowledgeable attorney in creating your estate plan.
When you make an estate plan, it's important for you to understand estate planning terminology, and to know how different documents and estate planning tools work, such as the difference between a last will and testament and a trust. Without that knowledge and professional guidance, you may not understand the effect of all the provisions in a legal document before you sign it. That means your estate plan might not accomplish what you think it does.
For example, in Arizona, your durable powers of attorney and advance directive or health care directive include multiple different documents, each of which accomplishes a different goal. Without help from a lawyer, it can be confusing to try to understand what each different document means and why you need so many documents. That is never a risk when you get help from a lawyer, because your attorney explains every document before you sign it.
Gaining Peace of Mind About Your Estate Plan
The preceding discussion explains just some of the many reasons that you should turn to an experienced estate planning attorney when you decide to create an estate plan. Your lawyer helps you navigate through the process step-by-step and provides you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you identified all your goals and created a legally valid estate plan that addresses all your wishes and goals for the future of your loved ones and for your own future.
At Peterson Law Offices, your first consultation is always free of charge and without obligation. We welcome you to find out more about our estate planning services by scheduling an appointment with us.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced East Valley Estate Planning Attorney
At Peterson Law Offices, estate planning is a primary focus of our practice. There is no charge for your initial consultation with us. We provide top-quality services at affordable prices and welcome inquiries from clients throughout the East Valley, including Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Gilbert, Mesa, and Chandler. Schedule your free initial consultation by calling 480-878-5998 or using our online contact form.