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Senior Couple Planning Their Estate Document with An Attorney

Why Choose an Attorney for Estate Planning Over Online Forms 

KSMH Law Group, PLLC Nov. 11, 2022

Estate planning may be the most important legal step you can take to provide for your family and loved ones, yet year after year people put off this essential task or worse—they think they can do it by themselves. A well-written estate plan should be a priority for everyone regardless of how much wealth they have, but the task may seem too daunting or not worth the time and effort it requires. 

If you’d like to start drafting a plan or have questions about the process and would like to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney, reach out to me at KSMH Law Group, PLLC. I’m located in San Antonio, Texas, but I can represent clients in Kirby, Live Oak, Leon Valley, Universal City, and the rest of Texas. Set up a one-on-one consultation today. 

Why Estate Planning Is Important  

Many people falsely believe that they only need an estate plan if they’re incredibly wealthy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone, no matter their age or financial status, can benefit from having an estate plan. The most common reason people draft a plan like this is because they wish to assign beneficiaries for certain assets they have. And while this is an important feature of an estate plan, it’s not the only reason to have one. Estate plans also allow you to name a legal guardian for any minor children or pets, as well as lay out your directives for medical care or financial and legal decision making should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate your wishes. 

Online Forms vs. Estate Planning Attorney  

These days, there are a number of websites that claim you can DIY an estate plan without the need of an attorney. While these may be tempting to use, there are some key issues you should be aware of. 

State-Specific  

The first caveat about using online estate planning forms is that they’re not state-specific, meaning they won't inform you of any of the local laws in your area that could affect how a will should be drawn up, how assets need to be distributed, or what the tax implications are for your heirs. Only a local attorney will be knowledgeable about state-specific requirements and can advise you on these matters. 

Making Modifications  

The second concern about drafting an estate plan online is that modifications or changes can be hard to complete and even minor changes may end up altering the entire estate plan. When you work with a lawyer, they can help you evaluate and double check your plan, as well as complete a final review once you’ve finished to ensure everything is written in a legally-binding way and is consistent with your wishes. If you try to make alterations on your own, you could inadvertently make your entire plan unenforceable over a seemingly minor detail. 

Getting the Right Advice  

Online estate planning forms will usually include general directions on how to fill out the form as well as some guiding questions to get you started, but nothing can replace the personalized guidance you’ll get from an experienced attorney. When you work with a lawyer, you’ll be able to ask questions about your specific situation and get tailored answers so you truly understand what your plan lays out. An attorney can also provide tax guidance and tips to reduce the burden that’s left on your loved ones after you pass.  

When Disputes Arise 

Even when a will or estate plan is fairly straightforward, there can still be disputes that come up between family members of the deceased. Unfortunately, family in-fighting is very common after a loved one dies—especially if the deceased was wealthy and has not assigned assets to people who think they “deserve” them. When this happens, you may find that individuals hire lawyers to pick apart the will, looking for errors or ambiguous language that might mean their client has a claim on an asset that was never intended for them. If the will is contested, a judge will have to step in to make a decision, often turning to the attorney who helped draft the will for unbiased information. However, if the will was written online and therefore contains errors or confusing language, the beneficiaries and the court will have to resolve the issue on their own. 

Keeping Your Documentation Safe  

Lastly, when you work with an estate planning attorney instead of an online template, your lawyer will keep a copy of your plan on file, which adds another layer of accountability should something happen to the original document.  

Legal Guidance Tailored to You  

Your peace of mind and the future stability and wellbeing of your family is too important to be trusted to impersonal online forms. Work with an estate planning attorney you can trust at KSMH Law Group, PLLC in the San Antonio, Texas.