Of the handful of major life events that require your serious consideration, few are as emotionally charged as how to leave your assets for loved ones at the time of your death. This often complex process is accomplished via testamentary documents such as wills and trusts, which have recently become available for purchase online as standard forms. Many of us are familiar with the commercial refrain of “Are you a ______? No, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night!” At this point, your levels of confidence and trust are ready to overflow.

The assets you have acquired during your life and the ways that you own them are often far more complex than a standard legal document or online service can anticipate.  When you make that all important decision to create a will or put your assets into a trust, you need an experienced estate planning attorney to guide you so that your wishes for life and death can be carried out without risk of your family getting stuck in court or conflict, when it’s too late.

Your incapacity or death will be an emotional time for your family. During this time, they need guidance, not a set of documents, which may not have even been kept up to date or adequately cover after-acquired assets.

The online services are not properly equipped to address the family situations that actually exist in the world today. For example, multiple marriages, minor children, minor children from multiple marriages, or ownership of a small business, should all require legal assistance. Although same-sex marriage has recently been legalized, there are specific issues that the LGBT community must also address. No two families are exactly the same, why should their documents be carbon copies?

There may also be a variety different tax or asset protection implications for your inheritors. The right lawyer can advise you on the best way to handle the different assets you own such as real estate, investments, a small business, or personal property.

Is a trust right for your situation? Is there a way to transfer an asset before you pass, so that it will be protected from claims, creditors or taxation? What if you want to give to charity or provide for your pets? Groupon can’t help you with that.

Another significant asset that is missing from the online services is the firearms trust. Weapons are nothing like jewelry, heirlooms, money, or other property. Indeed, the federal government will have something to say if firearms are transferred by an executor or personal representative who is not a federally licensed firearms dealer.

While you may initially save money if you have a simple, small estate with few assets by just using a form that you find online. But, if you become incapacitated before death, your family could get stuck with a long drawn out court process, as they attempt to get control of your financial assets. And, if your document is unclear, contestable, or wholly or partially invalid, it’s your family who will be paying the price down the road.

Want to avoid these challenges for yourself and your loved ones? Speak with A Personal Family Lawyer® to create an estate plan that protects you and the ones you love. No one wants to be a burden on their family. Any of us can make major progress to avoid being that burden by taking the time to do their estate plan. 

This article is a service of A.J. Yolofsky, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.