I often hear people say, “I don’t need an estate plan. I don’t have an estate!” But that’s not true. Virtually everyone can benefit from having a personalized estate plan, which is, at the very least, a will. Without one, the state of Illinois will decide what happens to your house, bank accounts, cars, etc. when you die. And trust me, the state of Illinois doesn’t know you or your family, so they may not make the same decisions you would make.
The number of online and do-it-yourself legal providers continues to grow, and in a day and age where you can learn anything on the Internet, it may seem very tempting to just do a will on your own. After all, it’s just filling in the blanks, right? WRONG!
Filling out the forms may seem straightforward, but any mistakes you make may not come to light until it is TOO LATE. By doing things yourself now and trying to save a few bucks, you could cost your family more money than you saved. You could also create more distress, confusion and grief for them. Bad estate plans break up good families.
5 Reasons you should not do-it-yourself when it comes to your will:
- Legal Expertise – The law is complicated! That’s why I spent 3 years in law school and still spend several weeks each year in conferences learning more. I know what to do to make your plan work the way you want it to. I also know the unique laws of the state of Illinois.
- Counseling – Attorneys like me are called “Counselors at Law” for a reason, and I take that designation very seriously. Everyday I counsel families, guiding them through delicate decisions like providing for an elderly parent without interrupting government benefits, protecting family property when it’s time to enter a nursing home and deciding how to pass down wealth/assets so that they’re protected from creditors or irresponsible spending. No two families are the same, so why should wills be essentially the same document with a change in words here or there?
- Explanation of Intentions – Oftentimes there are hurt feelings or confusion that arise from someone’s choices made in their will. At Edwards Group, we not only take the time to get to know you, we get to know your family as well. We strive to develop a meaningful relationship with you so that when the time comes, we can provide appropriate guidance, explanations, etc. This type of relationship can help avoid costly or heartbreaking family feuds.
- Coordination of Assets – Wills control things you own, (or are titled in your name). But what about your assets that are not controlled by your will? Joint ownership, payable upon death, or beneficiary designations on IRAs, 401(k)s or life insurance policies are a huge part of the planning process. So huge, in fact, that we have two asset coordinators (Laura and Liis) on staff and that’s ALL they do! It can be very complicated to try and navigate coordination of assets on your own.
- Complexity – Most people think starting out that their estate plan will be simple, but many discover along the way that some personalized planning is needed. In that case, you need the guidance and counseling of an experienced attorney because you won’t be around to straighten things out when you die or become incapacitated.
The best advice I can give you is to become an educated consumer. Education is something we value here at Edwards Group. That’s why you’ll find page after page of estate planning information on our website. The better educated you are about planning, the better able we are to help you design a plan that perfectly fits your family and circumstances. Our process isn’t for everyone, but with a money back guarantee, you don’t have much to lose! Give us a call at 217-726-9200 to find out how to get started.