Do It Yourself? You May Be Facing Serious Consequences!

The whole idea behind having a proper estate plan drawn up is to avoid creditors, avoid hurt feelings, avoid folks coming out of the woodwork once you have passed away claiming rights to what you worked your whole life to obtain and thought you secured. You should be doing all you can to avoid any potential post-death controversies.

A will, for example, can be contested on several grounds questioning its validity. Such grounds include but are not limited to: undue influence, improper execution, and lack of capacity. Therefore the more care that is taken in the documents preparation upon implementation the less likely it is that someone will dispute the documents after death.

I understand we are all trying to save a buck – and that is exactly what you will be doing if you have a proper estate plan written up by a knowledgeable attorney. Trust me the costs on the back end far exceed any costs for drafting and executing the documents.

Even if you have already created your own estate plan via some internet service or even by writing one up in your own handwriting, I urge you to have it reviewed by an estate planning attorney. He or she will tell you what you have done correctly, and what you could/should do to your plan. This is particularly important if you have a modest estate.

Therefore the best course of action to get started is: 1) think about what you have and who you want to benefit upon your death; 2) talk to a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to draw up a plan and speak candidly about the best methods and documents for your needs; 3) have that plan implemented, including signing properly, and safeguarded for when the time comes.

Arizona does not mandate any wills or trusts be recorded, thus sometimes even a proper estate plan can become “lost” if fallen into the wrong hands. The best way to guard against this practice is to have your estate plan distributed to several people. One of my clients gave it to his wife, his three children, and his siblings. By doing so, he has ensured that these documents can be found.

If you have any questions regarding an estate plan, please do not hesitate to contact me. And remember, estate planning is not for the wealthy, it is for the living.

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