An individual can find plenty of places online that offer low-cost or even free estate planning forms. While getting access to these forms for little to no money is an enticing offer, the true value of working with a professional estate planner isn’t in the forms they provide but in the knowledge that they bring to the table.
Past, present and future
When going through the estate planning process, the goal is to learn from the past and adapt to the present while trying to anticipate what will happen in the future. The free forms found online can help when organizing information from the past and sometimes with creating a roadmap for adapting to the future. However, creating an effective plan for the future will be a much easier process with an estate planning professional, which is what makes hiring one such a worthwhile investment.
A person who wants to leave all of their assets to their spouse or children can write a will that explains those wishes. They may believe that what has been prepared is sufficient, and it will serve as a legally binding will and testament. An estate planner is able to take their client to the extra step of reviewing beneficiary forms that dictate who gets access to retirement accounts and other contracted assets. What an individual wants to do with those assets may change over time due to a change in marital status or other life event. However, if those forms aren’t updated, those funds will be given to the person listed as the beneficiary.
An attorney who is well-versed in their state’s estate planning and probate laws may guide their client through the process of creating a detailed estate plan. This plan will cover what the client wants to do with their assets along with other issues such as medical and financial power of attorney.