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Do I need a lawyer when creating an estate plan?

Estate plans are not to be taken lightly. They control where your assets go or what should happen to you and/or your children if a tragedy occurs. Because your wishes depend so heavily on an estate plan, you need to make sure you complete the documents correctly. Otherwise, your property could be distributed or handled in a way that you would never have chosen.

Here are 3 reasons you should consider an attorney when creating your estate plan:

1. Laws affect estate plans.

Estate planning tools, such as wills, are legal documents. California's state laws govern what you can and can't do with an estate plan. Your plan could be invalidated by the law without you realizing that anything is wrong.

Lawyers set up estate plans all the time. It is their job to stay up-to-date on the law and guide people on how to craft a plan that works how they want it to work. With an attorney's help, you can know that your estate is protected and that your wishes will be respected.

2. Estate plans can get very complex.

Building a successful plan is not just a matter of knowing the law. You also need to make sure you do not miss an important aspect of your assets. Many factors call for a more complex plan, such as second marriages, business ownership, or pets and kids. An attorney knows how to account for all of this. If you try to set it up yourself and miss important documents, you could accidentally exclude people you want to include or invalidate the plan altogether.

3. Your loved ones must deal with any errors.

If there are any errors in your estate plan when you pass away, your loved ones are left dealing with the consequences. There may be a lengthy probate process that you intended to avoid or disputes about what you truly wanted. An attorney knows how to prevent these mistakes and account for the many situations that could come up. Otherwise, you risk placing the stress of the probate process on others.

An estate plan is not always a pleasant topic and many people avoid it. However, it is one of the most important set of documents you can complete. A skilled attorney can set up a plan that works for your unique circumstances.

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