Excuse #1: My estate is too small.
For many individuals, especially those with smaller estates, the most important documents are a durable power of attorney and medical directives. While a will protects your estate after you’re gone, a durable power of attorney and medical directives protect you while you’re still here.
Excuse #2: Joint ownership of accounts with my children is an adequate plan.
No it isn’t. Unless there is only one child. It is impossible to keep separate accounts for more than one child equal. This is especially true if the parent becomes incapacitated and no linger has control over the accounts. Trying to save a few dollars by managing an estate in this fashion runs the serious risk of causing discord in a family for generations to come. Why take the chance?
Excuse #3: I don’t want to pay a lawyer to draw up the plan.
Software is available that produces most of the estate planning documents an attorney will prepare. The chances are good, however, that such “one size fits all” approaches will prove inadequate in any specific case. In fact, few clients just need a simple will. If there’s anything about your situation that’s not plain vanilla, you need to see a lawyer (and only a qualified lawyer can tell you if your situation is indeed plain vanilla). The problems you may create by not getting competent legal advice probably won’t be yours, but may well be your children’s. Don’t risk leaving such a legacy.
Excuse #4: I just haven’t gotten around to it.
Reading this blog is the first step towards getting around to it.