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Why Use an Estate Planning Attorney Instead of Using a Form?

Michael A. Siefert, P.A. March 10, 2023

Attorney helps senior couples to prepare estate planEstate planning is a serious matter. While most people believe estate planning is important, many folks, unfortunately, look to find an easy way around the process. The fact is that getting the right legal counsel is the best way to make sure your estate plan protects your loved ones during some of the most difficult times they can face. 

I am an experienced probate and estate planning attorney serving Ocala, Florida residents and the fine people throughout Marion County. Don’t risk having crucial details fall through the cracks when you write your will. Reach out to my firm today to get the information you need to make important estate planning decisions from an attorney who wants the best for you and your beneficiaries. 

The Importance of Estate Planning in Florida 

Proactively planning for the future is highly important. In fact, over half of Americans believe that estate planning is important. However, only one-third have a will or living trust in place. This trend is highly concerning, especially since failing to plan leaves loved ones vulnerable during difficult times.  

It’s a common misconception to believe you do not need a will or trust if they do not have substantial assets to leave behind. The following discusses key reasons why everyone needs to put a personalized estate plan in place, no matter your wealth or age.  

Protecting Loved Ones 

Estate planning requires you to make importat decisions that concern how your assets will be divided, what your end-of-life medical preferences are, and, if you have children, how they’ll be taken care of if you pass away. Since no one can predict the future, it’s crucial to make and enforce these decisions as soon as possible, then continue to update your estate documents every few years for your wishes to remain relevant to your current situation and reflect the best interests of your loved ones. Outlining your plans clearly can also help relieve unnecessary stress for your heirs and beneficiaries.  

Fair Asset Distribution 

Most people have far more assets than they believe. There are insurance payments, homes, retirement accounts, cash, and vehicles, among other tangible and non-tangible assets. As such, estate planning eliminates potential conflict among loved ones. By planning proactively, loved ones know what they can expect upon a person’s passing. 

Avoiding Probate 

When a person dies intestate (without a will), family members cannot automatically access the deceased party’s estate. Instead, the estate must go through probate. In probate, the court decides who gets what. As a result, some vulnerable loved ones may get left out and not inherit what you would have wished for them to receive.  

Online Forms vs. Retaining an Estate Planning Attorney in Florida 

There is no question that using online estate planning forms or templates is cheaper than retaining an estate planning attorney. However, saving a few dollars may end up costing more in the long run. That is why getting the right legal advice is much more cost-effective long term than using free online estate planning forms or templates. 

Let’s explore why retaining an estate planning attorney offers a better value proposition than using online forms or templates. 

State-Specific Legal Considerations 

Online forms and templates use a cookie-cutter model. As a result, they are not always compliant with state-specific regulations. Please note this is a significant consideration since missing key legal compliance issues may invalidate a will causing the estate to go through probate. Additionally, legal issues may open the door to challenges further delaying ownership transfer.  

A professional estate planning attorney can help you create a will is fully compliant with local state regulations ensuring that beneficiaries access the estate as promptly as possible. 

Modifying an Estate Plan 

Modifying an online template can become quite complex. Slight modifications can cause the entire document to change significantly. As a result, users may need to redraft their entire estate planning to accommodate changes.  

In contrast, an estate planning attorney can modify a will much more easily, ensuring peace of mind.  

Getting the Right Legal Advice 

Using online estate planning forms means users are left to fend for themselves. They get no legal advice meaning there is no assurance that they will cover what users need. Hiring an estate planning attorney ensures that users’ specific needs are addressed according to specific state laws.  

Moreover, attorneys know what works in their clients’ best interests, such as minimizing tax considerations. That is why an experienced attorney can offer a much more comprehensive approach than going at it alone. 

Conflict Resolution and Litigation 

When disputes arise, leading to court challenges, the court favors information coming from parties that do not have a stake in the will. When individuals draft wills themselves, the documentation has an inherent bias.  

An estate planning attorney is an objective third party that does not stand to benefit from the will itself. Therefore, the court is likelier to side with the attorney instead of biased individuals. 

Safeguarding Documentation 

Document security is a huge issue. An estate planning attorney must keep copies and records of the documentation they produce. So, the attorney maintains a copy if anyone steals documents kept at a person’s residence. This approach safeguards documentation avoiding costly issues. Conversely, using online forms is highly risky. If the documentation disappears, getting backup copies may be impossible. 

Getting Reliable Guidance 

When it comes to protecting loved ones, getting reliable guidance from a professional estate planning attorney is a must. Don’t navigate it alone. While it may be cheaper to do so in the short-term, long term, your loved ones may become vulnerable. Contact me today. I am here to help protect your loved ones and your legacy.