PB Law Blog... Trusts and Stuff

Thursday, June 20, 2019

6 Reasons Why Hiring an Estate Planning Lawyer Beats Doing-It-Yourself

DIY Will??

In the information age, you can pretty much learn how to do just about any household task- watch a video on YouTube to learn how to build a bookshelf, read one of the thousands of DIY blogs to learn how to install a sprinkler set, or refinish a dresser.  With the almost unlimited information out there, you feel like you can bypass many professionals to get a cheaper fix. So, yes, you can write your own will or use an online service such as LegalZoom.

The question, though, shouldn’t be whether or not you can write your own will, but rather whether you SHOULD

The problem is:  you don’t know what you don’t know.

Obviously, I’m writing this from a biased point of view, as I am an estate planning lawyer and all.  However, my partner Chris Phillips and I regularly see what happens with “DIY” estate plans and the nightmares that follows. Simply put- you need a professional. 

Here are my top 6 reasons why you need an estate planning lawyer’s help: 

Reason #1:  You Need More than Just a Will!

You don’t just need a will; you need an estate plan. While the two terms “will” and “estate plan” are often used interchangeably, this is wrong, as they two distinct concepts.  

A Will is just one of the many documents that comprises a comprehensive estate plan. 

An Estate Plan is the set of documents that provides for your care and financial & health care decision making and stability if you become incapacitated or pass away. 

In fact, there are typically around 9 different documents that make up a typical estate plan (many include several more, depending on the circumstances).  So, writing your own Will by itself won’t come close to cutting it!

Reason #2: It’s Easier than Doing it Yourself.

I could do a full-day lecture on my many Pinterest fails, which run from passable to hideous.  While I’m not going to lose sleep over a botched bookcase, I certainly don’t think you should risk making the same mistakes when your entire estate, your kids’ care, and your legacy are at stake. 

In order to want to avoid screwing it up, you’d have to have spent the time learning the possible pitfalls and errors, in addition to how to properly form and design certain legal documents, as well as how to fund the plan, in order to get it done correctly. 

How long would this take? In my case it took:

  • 4 years of undergrad;
  • 3 years of law school, including 3 summer internships;
  • Studying & passing 2 state bar exams (each had a less than 50% pass rate); +
  • 12 years of practice in the field of estate planning (full-time, all day, every day).

There is no way to bypass this.  This is also why I don’t recommend having just any lawyer draft your estate plan either because the law is incredibly vast and complicated. Just like I wouldn’t represent someone in a criminal trial, I don’t recommend you have a non-estate planning lawyer draft your estate plan.

Handing off the complex task of drafting a thorough estate plan to a responsible professional will alleviate an immense burden on you. It’s simply a lot of work to write an estate plan (believe it or not, we don’t just find & replace your name into a set template and call it a day- there is much more customization, design & forethought that goes into it!).

Reason #3: It’ll Be Cheaper

Without a plan, or with a flawed estate plan, your estate will end up paying much more in the long run in court fees, attorneys’ fees, and taxes. 

It may even save you bigger money if you have asset protection needs- meeting with a skilled estate planning lawyer who can make recommendations as to how to best set up asset protection can protect your estate from lawsuits, divorces, etc.

Reason # 4: It’s Hard.

I covered this above, but honestly this stuff is difficult.  Every word or phrase in an estate plan can count and be beneficial- or create a nightmare.  Not to mention, the law is ever changing- local rules & laws, case laws, federal laws, administrative laws, and tax laws change DAILY.  It’s almost a full-time job to track the current rules & laws.

Reason #5: You Only Get One Chance at This!

Once you’re dead- well, you’re dead.  You won’t get a “do-over” to revise your plan if it’s a mess (your family will end up in Court to try and fix everything- which is super costly and a pain).  Plus, your estate plan will probably need updates & edits over the years (if you have any major life changes, financial changes, or if the law changes… spoiler alert- it will). 

Reason #6: A Second Pair of Eyes

Along with their specific legal expertise, an estate planning lawyer can offer a neutral point-of view.  Is it the best idea to leave your entire estate to a new partner?   Should you really leave your 18-year old kid their entire inheritance in one chunk?  An estate planner lawyer can give you unbiased, reasoned advice, and can make suggestions that you may not have considered to make your plan the best it can be. 

Have I convinced you yet??? For more info on your Estate Planning, or to schedule an in-depth consultation with top-rated Las Vegas Estate Planning attorney Tiffany Ballenger Floyd, please contact us online, or you can give us a call at 702-997-5701. 

-by Tiffany Ballenger Floyd, Esq. (Nevada Estate Planning Attorney), © 2019, Phillips Ballenger, PLLC

Photo by Roselyn Tirado on Unsplash

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