Laws have evolved past the intuitive into the complex, and some are certainly more complex than others. Tax law is one of the most complicated legal fields out there, and it’s not something you should take lightly–especially when great sums of money are on the line. That’s why it’s always to your benefit to get the right kind of legal advice before you try to do anything on your own. Your family and friends are important, and the transfer of wealth after you pass can be much simplified with an expert on your side. Here are some of the biggest pitfalls you might run into if you try to do it on your own.
If you don’t have an estate worth millions, you probably won’t need to do much more than draft a will and power of attorney, and you might be in a better position to do it yourself. Unfortunately a lot of people choose to go the online route when they do that. If you don’t have a lot of money to begin with, then a fancy website might seduce you into an option that seems a lot cheaper than hiring real help. This might work out just fine for some people, but others stand to lose a lot more than they save.
Your situation can become more complicated if your spouse has already passed, if you have children, or if you’ve been divorced and then remarried. Knowing how to draw up a trust is also a complicated venture, and a simple mistake can leave it null and void. An estate planning attorney will know the details of both the law and your situation, and can help you make the right choices for both yourself and your loved ones.
Even if you painstakingly research everything you might need to know online, you’ll still be sifting through copious amounts of potentially misleading information. Did you name the beneficiaries? A contingent executor? The Internet isn’t a textbook, and it’s difficult to sort out the important stuff from the trash.
If you make a mistake, then the legacy you wish to leave to your children might first be challenged in court. That might sound far-fetched, but in the case of potential recipients who wish to fight over what they’re getting from you, it could be a brutal reality. Without a lawyer to attest to how you, the client, wished to distribute wealth, it’s just a matter of two people fighting over what seems fair–but you’re both notably biased because you want something out of it. A lawyer is a trusted third party who is only doing what is best for a client, and it’s more likely a judge will listen to that legal consideration when problems develop.
More importantly, if you have an estate worth millions of dollars, then you stand to lose a lot of money through unnecessary taxation or simple mistakes. An estate planning lawyer can help you navigate all the tax loopholes and save as much as possible. What you decide to do is completely up to you, but be sure you know you’re making the right decision before you make your choice!