When people finally decide to make an estate plan, some of them turn to the Internet or to do-it-yourself guides. While these types of materials have their place they are never a substitute for the advice of a good estate planning attorney. All too often people who make their own estate plan overlook some key issues.
For some people, the phrase “estate tax” conjures up an image of a wealthy socialite who stand to inherit millions from rich parents. But estate taxes can be an issue to more people than just the fabulously wealthy. This is especially true if you created your own estate plan years ago and your assets have since appreciated, or will likely appreciate in the future.
Many people who create their own estate plans also, and mistakenly, believes that they only need to create a last will and testament. While a will is a foundational estate planning tool it is not ideal in most situations. The fact is that wills do not allow you to avoid probate transfers and do nothing to ensure privacy or protect you from tax liability.
A do-it-yourself estate planner might have considered what would happen in the event he or she becomes incapacitated and could create an advanced directive. However, incapacity planning is much more than a simple living will or health care proxy, and preparing adequate powers of attorney is also a very important step.