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Common Mistakes People Make With DIY Estate Planning

 Posted on August 10, 2017 in Estate Planning

Lombard estate planning lawyerIn today’s world, you can Google a “how-to” on nearly anything. Want to build a playhouse for your children? There are YouTube videos to show you how. Trying to become a better writer? A quick search can offer you thousands of workbooks, prompts, and exercises. Need a will or a power of attorney document? Countless resources are available to help you skip the “hassle” of hiring an estate planning lawyer. Unfortunately, a do-it-yourself estate plan is rarely a good idea, as even a small mistake can have significant consequences.

Retaining an estate planning attorney may seem unnecessary, especially as you draft your documents. At the very least, however, you should have a lawyer review your will and any other documents before you sign them to ensure that you do not become a victim of:

Selecting the Wrong People

Dividing your assets is only part of the estate planning equation. Your plan can also address what will happen regarding your finances and health care if you become disabled or incapacitated. Choosing powers of attorney for health care or property is an important decision. You must pick someone who is trustworthy, willing, and capable of making decisions on your behalf, and all three elements are crucial.

For example, many people choose their oldest child out of a sense of tradition or duty, but that child may not be very good at making important decisions. Or, he or she may live on the other side of the country, making it nearly impossible for him or her to talk to your doctors and other medical professionals. A different child—or a trusted friend—may be better suited for the task, and an attorney can help you make the right selection.

Leaving Everything to Your Estate

Do you have an individual retirement account? If so, have you named a beneficiary who will receive the remainder of your investments upon your death? Too often, people fail to name beneficiaries for their retirement plans, which means the proceeds are incorporated into the estate—becoming subject to claims made by creditors during probate. With a few simple steps, you could direct that money to your children, or even their children, so that it does not get tied up in court proceedings. An estate planning lawyer can ensure you take those steps before it is too late.

Forgetting Assets

You may have written a will that you think addresses everything you own or owe. But how certain are you? An estate planning attorney has vast experience in creating comprehensive plans that encompass every aspect of a person’s estate. This includes commonly overlooked things like digital assets or intellectual property, long-forgotten bonds or stocks, or heirlooms tucked away in a box in the attic. While these assets would eventually be considered part of your estate and divided as such, you may wish to leave them to certain heirs. This cannot happen if you do not address them in your estate plan.

We Can Help

Depending on the size and complexity of your estate, you may be able to develop a reasonable estate plan on your own. It is still important to have your plan reviewed for any potential problems by a qualified attorney before the documents are signed and executed. To learn more about the estate planning process, contact an experienced Lombard estate planning lawyer today. Call 630-426-0196 for a confidential consultation.



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