There are websites that sell do-it-yourself estate planning worksheets and downloads. They contend that it is easy for anyone to plan their own estate using these handy tools.
As they say, if something seems to be too good to be true, it is probably just that. A number of years ago, the highly regarded, objective publication Consumer Reports put the matter of DIY estate planning under the microscope.
They engaged three prominent legal professors, including Gerry Beyer from Texas Tech. Staffers created wills using downloads that they got from three of the most prominent online purveyors of boilerplate legal documents.
The educators found flaws, and they stated that unintended negative consequences can come about if these tools are used by inexperienced people. Consumer Reports advised readers to steer clear of these notions unless the situation is very simple and straightforward.
Aside from the simple fact that do-it-yourself estate planning is risky business, there are some other reasons why you should seek legal counsel when you are devising your estate plan.
Use the Right Asset Transfer Vehicles
There are different ways to facilitate postmortem asset transfers, and a will is not always the right choice. The administration of a will is time consuming and expensive, because the probate court is involved.
Plus, you would be providing lump sum inheritances to the heirs if you utilize a will. There would be no asset protection or spending safeguards going forward.
On the other hand, if you use a living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan, the transfers would not be subject to probate. As a result, these negatives would be avoided.
Another consideration is a loss government benefits. Many people with disabilities rely on Medicaid as a source of health insurance, and they receive income through the Supplemental Security Income program.
These are need-based benefits, so a windfall that is received through the terms of a will can cause a loss of eligibility. Under these circumstances, you could use a supplemental needs trust to make a beneficiary more comfortable without jeopardizing government benefit eligibility.
When you work with an attorney from our firm, they will gain an understanding of your situation and make the appropriate recommendations. Your estate plan will be custom-crafted with the life situation and personal proclivities of the beneficiaries in mind.
All Bases Will Be Covered
A lot of people equate estate planning to the execution of a will, and they do not think about end-of-life issues. If you do nothing to prepare for incapacity, a guardian could be appointed to handle your affairs, and you could become a ward of the state.
Your estate plan should include legally binding documents that empower a representative to act on your behalf if it ever becomes necessary. When you take the right steps in advance, you can prevent a guardianship.
There are other details that a layperson may overlook, like the letter of last instructions. You should compose a letter to the executor or trustee to give them the information they will need to properly administer the estate.
An attorney will make sure that you attend to all the finer details, and your loved ones will be the ultimate beneficiaries.
Include a Nursing Home Asset Protection Strategy
Medicare does not pay for a stay in a nursing home, and it does not cover in-home care that is provided by a home health aide. Most senior citizens will need some type of paid care eventually according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Medicaid will cover these costs, but it is a need-based program, so you have to divest yourself of assets to gain eligibility.
The divestitures must be completed at least five years before you apply for coverage, so advance planning is key. We can help you create a trust that will provide income until and unless you apply for Medicaid, and this can allow you to enjoy your golden years with peace of mind.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
If all of this makes sense to you, today is the day for action. You can schedule a consultation at our Oklahoma City estate planning office if you call us at 405-843-6100, and you can use our contact form if you would rather send us a message.