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Some pitfalls, considerations regarding wills in estate planning, P.2

In our last post, we began discussing some pitfalls surrounding wills, or things to keep in mind about wills. In addition to assessing the desirability of probate avoidance, periodic review of estate documents and beneficiary designations, and including less obvious assets, another potential pitfall it do-it-yourself wills.

A number of online companies offer consumers resources for drafting their own will and other basic estate planning documents. While it is to be commended that more folks are taking action with respect to their estate plan because of these offerings, there is the risk that substandard planning may be the result. 

With do-it-yourself planning, there are a number of things that can go wrong, depending on the advice or guidance one is receiving online, the individual’s estate, family circumstances, and long-term goals for the plan. For this reason, it is best to work with an experienced attorney who can thoroughly evaluate an individual’s situation, help come up with an appropriate estate plan, and carefully draft the documents, which may include not only a will, guardian and beneficiary designations, but also a living will or health care directive, durable power of attorney, trusts, buy-sell agreements for businesses and other documents relating to the individual’s assets.

Another pitfall with wills is assuming that simply having a will can prevent the family from fighting once the individual dies. A well-drafted will, which uses careful and precise wording, can help in this regard if there is no confusion over previously drafted estate planning documents, but it doesn’t necessarily prevent all potential disputes from arising. In our next post, we’ll discuss some potential strategies for minimizing family fighting over estate matters after one’s death. 

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