Estate planning sounds simple, but if minor things are not taken into consideration, it can be a disaster. So should you get help with your estate plan? If so, where should you look?
If you have a very simple estate with few assets, you may be able to make plans on your own. But even with the help of great online resources and fill-in-the-blank forms for estate planning, it may still make sense to touch base with a lawyer.
That said, here are some ways you can get help with your estate plan:
Learn About Estate Planning Online
First, do an online search. FindLaw.com has many free resources available to help you learn about the laws of estate planning. Our Estate Planning Center offers simple explanations of complicated legal topics such as probate, trusts, living wills, and estate administration. Also check out our free Guide to Estate Planning which you can download, print out, and share with family and friends.
Use Templates As a Guide
If you decide to use an online estate planning form or template, it's wise to study their contents and use them as a guide in making your own estate plan. Of course, each person's estate is different, so a template may not fit your exact needs. That's why you may want to consult an experienced estate planning lawyer who can advise you on the best way to proceed. You can also ask a lawyer to review the estate plan you've come up with on your own -- but keep in mind, many lawyers will decline because they're uncomfortable signing off on a document they didn't draft themselves.
Consider a Legal Plan That Offers Estate Planning Services
An Internet search may also lead you to some legal services that combine the do-it-yourself approach with the services of a lawyer. For example, one such service is called LegalStreet: a prepaid legal plan that gives you access to hundreds of legal forms, and also includes a will that's drafted by an attorney.
As part of a prepaid plan, LegalStreet also includes a free review of your will every year, along with unlimited phone calls to a local attorney for a list of covered legal services. The best part, a prepaid LegalStreet plan works out to just $12.50 a month.
These are just a few ways to get help with your estate plan. The obvious choice is to hire an attorney from the get-go, but not everyone has the money to do so. Luckily, there are many ways to get your legal needs taken care of in a cost-effective manner.
Disclosure: LegalStreet and FindLaw.com are owned by the same company.