Not many people like to think about dying, but if you care about the ones you love, it’s very necessary to consider planning your estate.
Estate planning isn’t too difficult and is likely worth the money.
Like most things in law, creating your own will in do-it-yourself fashion is possible, but hooking up with an attorney is going to be a much better idea. If you decide to plan your estate do a little bit of research and find a firm with a good reputation. From there, here are some things to keep in mind.
According to Trent Kunz, a practicing attorney of wills and estate planning at Salmon Creek Law Offices, the process of drafting these documents usually takes two to three weeks, and for good reason — you don’t want anything left out. The whole point of planning your estate is to make sure it’s clear who is going to be getting your stuff when you’re gone, so being vague completely defeats the purpose.
Kunz says unfortunately this is one of the biggest problems clients don’t see coming. A lot of times, he says people will come to him with seemingly everything mapped out, but then when asked, “but what if the person you want to leave your money with dies?” they will not have a backup plan. A general rule of thumb, Kunz says, is to make sure you have “alternatives” if something unforeseen happens.
Speaking of the unpredictability of the future, it’s good to keep wills updated as time moves along. Unlike what some people might think, estate planning is not a “one time thing.” What if someone you’re planning to pass down something to dies, like mentioned above? Or what if you end up having a falling out with a good friend you were going to give that really nice car in your garage to? Reviewing your documents is important, and Kunz says doing it annually is prudent to make sure what you said you want is still what you want.
If you want to change something in your will at some point, it is also strongly advised to take the documents back to your attorney and let them facilitate the process. Kunz says he’s seen and heard of people thinking they can just do it on their own by say, crossing out words with a pen and writing new things in. Obviously, the credibility of a will at that point is going to be damaged and look very “sketchy” afterward.
A final piece of advice with estate planning would be to not wait. Of course, the stereotypical image of estate planning is of an elderly person or couple, but anyone can do it. Kunz says he has lots of senior-aged clients, but he says he also has many “younger people.” After all, terrible accidents happen randomly to people of all ages and you wouldn't want the courts deciding who will take your property if you can help it.