Don’t Skimp on Estate Planning – The Cheapest Route Is Usually Not The Best

We’ve all heard the expression, “You get what you pay for.” This usually means that the product you purchased isn’t very good. Using LegalZoom, one of the other automated, do it yourself (DIY) estate planning sites, or a pre-paid legal plan could turn out to be the same. That is why you need the assistance of an experienced, knowledgeable estate planning attorney in Virginia.

Why Do I Need An Estate Plan?

Estate planning is important for everyone, even those with small estates. It’s your way of ensuring that your assets, finances, and even your children are taken care of as you would want after your death.

Every estate plan should include the following:

  • A will or trust
  • A durable power of attorney
  • Beneficiary designations
  • Healthcare power of attorney
  • Guardianship designations.

Filling in all those blanks doesn’t sound so hard, right? After all, they are “standard” documents. And if you don’t have a lot of money or a large estate, those cheap prices sound tempting, don’t they? You can even pay a little more and get a better plan. But here’s another old saying, “Buyer beware.” There are many problems with these “standard” documents.

What Problems Could I Run Into With These Programs?

Do you consider yourself and your family to be “standard”? Of course not. There are no standard people or standard families. So why try to fit your particular situation into these standard forms with limited scenarios? Every family is unique and will have its own special needs for an estate plan.

Here are some of the problems you might run into if you just use the DIY or automated programs to craft your estate plan:

  • You don’t know what you don’t know. In other words, there are special circumstances and questions that should be addressed in your estate plan. If you don’t know what they are and the automated program doesn’t prompt you, you won’t know they need to be addressed.
  • The documents might not be legally valid in general or for your state in particular. 
  • If you have to make changes to your estate documents, will you be able to do that on your own through one of these programs? Will it cost you even more?
  • These programs cannot give you legal advice. It might be that what you are filling out as your plan is not the best way to go, but you won’t know that.
  • With these programs, your documents are not protected by attorney-client privilege. 

Taking all the above into account, it is easy to see why an estate planning attorney can address these issues before they become a problem for you or for your family after your death.

I Am In The Military, So I Can Get a Will For Free

Free! How can you resist something when it’s free? It’s great to get free samples of crackers at Costco or BOGO at the grocery store when nothing is at risk, but do you want to take that chance with something as important as your will or trust for your child’s education? For obvious reasons, military families need this service even more than civilians.

It is true that attorneys in the Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) will assist active duty military families with simple estate planning. While these attorneys may be qualified to do basic plans, the vast majority of them are not estate planning experts. They may also be limited to using fill-in-the-blank forms with limited customization. One useful estate planning tool that is almost always missing from a JAG-created estate plan is the Revocable Living Trust. A trust can allow families to avoid probate and the resulting expense and delays. Moreover, trusts are valid in every state, while wills are very state specific. For a military family, a trust may be the best option to avoid constantly redoing estate plans with every PCS. That’s why you should work with an attorney experienced in customizing trusts and estate plans for military families.

How We Can Help You

By now, you can see the advantages of working with an experienced estate planning attorney. An estate planning attorney can:

  • Develop bespoke estate plans that fit your family’s specific needs;
  • Know the right questions to ask and how to spot issues that require more customized drafting for your family;
  • Recommend the best way to handle your estate plan in particular;
  • Deal with large estates, multiple properties in multiple states, and other scenarios that don’t fit into an automated program;
  • Answer all your questions face to face and steer you and your estate plan in the right direction. 

Contact Jennifer Porter Law, PLLC, at (571) 532-9070 or online today to begin creating or revising your Virginia estate plan. Our team is dedicated to ensuring your estate planning strategies align with your current needs and future goals, providing a personalized approach to secure your legacy and your family’s well-being.