Do You Need a Lawyer to Make an Estate Plan?

Do You Need a Lawyer to Make an Estate Plan?
The availability of online document websites and preprinted forms may make it tempting to save money and create your own estate plan. However, the do-it-yourself / DIY approach for an estate plan poses substantial risks. Your documents may not be legally valid in Michigan, may not accomplish what you think they do, or may be ineffective because of improper execution. Seeking assistance from an experienced Michigan estate planning attorney is the only way to make absolutely certain that your estate plan accomplishes your wishes and meets all legal requirements.

Our estate planning lawyers at BRMM have decades of experience helping individuals and families create their estate plans. We work with clients at all stages of life and with all types of personal, financial, and family circumstances. In the discussion that follows, our attorneys explain the significant risks of using the DIY approach to create your estate plan.

Legal Validity of Your Estate Plan Documents

An estate plan includes a number of different documents. For Michigan residents, state law determines the legal validity of those documents. Even a small mistake or flaw in a document or in execution of a document can render it partially or wholly invalid.

Even if your documents are entirely or mostly valid, they may have unintended consequences under Michigan law. When you create an estate plan, you want to make certain that the documents are not only valid, but that they accomplish your wishes and goals exactly as you intend.

If your estate plan is not legally valid, Michigan laws of intestate succession determine who inherits your property after your death. Your heirs under the laws may not be the individuals you designated in your estate plan.

Questionable estate plan documents can also lead to court actions, like a will contest. Litigation in court is time-consuming and expensive. It can also ruin lifelong family relationships, since family members usually are on opposite sides of probate and estate litigation.

The only way to ensure the legal validity of all your estate plan documents is to count on a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to create your plan. When you take that approach, you have the peace-of-mind knowing that the plan you put in place will take effect after your death, exactly as you intend.

One Size Does Not Fit All in Estate Planning

Every estate plan is as unique as the person who creates it. You are one-of-a-kind. Your personal, family, and financial circumstances are also unlike those of anyone else. No form or fill-in-the-blank service can address all the aspects that make your situation as singular as you are.

Your estate planning attorney gets to know you and fully understand all your circumstances before discussing the individual elements of your estate plan. Often, you have options to pursue. When that is the case, your lawyer discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the different choices and helps you navigate through the process of making a decision. A preprinted form or document service is not capable of doing that.

If you try to create your own estate plan, you may choose documents that are not well-suited to your circumstances. That can result in complex problems and tax implications for your family. To make certain that your estate plan takes into account all your special concerns and goals — and all your unique circumstances — it is essential to get assistance from an estate planning lawyer. Your attorney makes certain that the documents in your plan are those best-suited to your unique situation.

Inherent Risks of a Do-It-Yourself / DIY Estate Plan

One of the greatest risks of a do-it-yourself approach to estate planning is that errors or questions of validity may not be discovered until after it is too late for you to fix them. At that point, it may not even be possible to fix them. Significant time and money may be expended in court actions to try to resolve the problems. Probate and estate litigation consume assets of the estate, so beneficiaries or heirs receive much less (or nothing at all) when the estate is eventually settled.

Your estate plan protects you during your life, in the event of temporary or permanent incapacity. It also protects your family and your assets after your death. Both of those purposes are so essential and so important that it simply is not worth the risk of trying to save a small bit of money by making your own estate plan without help from a lawyer. The fact is that trying to fix mistakes in a DIY estate plan or resolve issues created by the documents can cost a lot more than a lawyer’s fee to make an estate plan, as well as take a toll on your family beyond the effect on financial resources.

Additional Information About Estate Planning

Our BRMM blog provides a wealth of information about estate planning. The blog posts written by our lawyers also answer many common questions. If you’re considering making an estate plan, these articles provide helpful information:

Talk With Our Trusted Troy, Michigan Estate Planning Attorneys

At the law firm of Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras, P.C., we provide a full range of services relating to estate planning and elder law. We’ve been serving clients in Oakland County and beyond for more than 40 years. Our clients count on our commitment, experience, and credentials when they turn to us for their legal needs.

Call us today at (248) 494-4577 or use our online form to talk with our experienced estate and probate attorneys.

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