The third week in October is National Estate Planning Awareness Week and is a good time to re-evaluate your estate planning options. For many people, estate planning has the connotation of being only for the wealthy. The reality: One does not need to be a millionaire to benefit from an estate plan or to afford one. A well-crafted estate plan documents your legacy and ensures it does not disintegrate into a mess left for your loved ones to handle.
In addition to the question of “who” should invest in an estate plan, there is also the question of “how.” Over the last nineteen months, individuals have increasingly taken their estate planning into their own hands. It’s no surprise that consumers are creating their wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives through a few popular legal websites because they are convenient and seem less expensive.
The convenience of online planning websites comes with a catch: Consumers don’t know their many asset distribution options, they have no access to an attorney to ask questions, nor do they understand the particular signing requirements. Online planning websites often leave the consumer with invalid wills and inadequate plans, which create bigger (and more expensive) problems after a loved one has become ill or passed away.
Common pitfalls within online estate planning programs include:
- The forms do not take into account the variations in state laws
- Improperly executed wills may not be valid or will add to probate costs
- Gifts to minor children are overly simplistic
- Legal advice is limited or non-existent
People recognize estate planning as a priority but delay because they don’t know an estate planning attorney, they worry the process will be expensive and difficult, and they do not want to contemplate their own death or incapacity. It is uncomfortable to deal with these issues, and it is easy to put them off for one more day.
As attorneys trained to handle estate planning, we have dealt with the fallout from wills that were witnessed by the beneficiaries – or not witnessed at all (the signer thought the witnesses were optional) – wills that made gifts outright to minor beneficiaries, and wills that failed to mention their spouse (they thought their spouse would predecease them). Two of the examples above resulted in a more complicated probate procedure. In the others, we were able to replace the documents.
In the end, the cost of the legal advice the online programs try to avoid, requires even more legal advice and larger fees. This is why we created the FBFK Estate Planning Portal. Our program combines the best of both worlds: Save money and time through the efficiency of the FBFK Estate Planning Portal and enjoy the personal relationship and attorney expertise when your meet with an estate planning attorney to review and sign your documents. This two-pronged approach ensures your goals are met and your documents executed properly.
The FBFK Estate Planning Portal is for people who want something simple, reasonably priced, accurate and quick. Our goal is to make wills and estate planning accessible to everyone. Whether you are a millennial with young children or a retired single with no estate plan, our hope is that you use our services to create documents that protect you, your family and your estate.