Three Reasons You Should Not Handle Your Own Estate Planning

a couple meeting with attorneyWith sites like LegalZoom and LegalNature that allow users to quickly download legal documentation becoming commonplace, many individuals believe that a “Do-It-Yourself” approach is the best way to handle their estate planning. The option is generally cheaper than hiring estate planning attorneys, so what could go wrong? In truth, many different things could go awry if you attempt to tackle estate planning on your own.

1. Simple Mistakes

One of the most common problems with DIY estate planning forms is the increased likelihood that an amateur makes a mistake that an estate planning lawyer would have caught. For example, the amateur may understand that they need a Power of Attorney to handle their finances in the event that they become incapacitated or otherwise unable to handle them on their own. They may not know that a Power of Attorney becomes null and void if they become incapacitated–the exact situation where they become necessary. You actually need a Durable Power of Attorney to ensure that your finances are handled by someone you trust, a completely different form than the one used to designate a Power of Attorney.

Another common problem is successfully creating a trust but failing to retitle assets to fund it. A trust with no retitled assets has zero value, rendering it completely useless. Your assets will end up getting distributed as if you had not created the trust in the first place and in a manner almost certainly inconsistent with your wishes.

2. Complicated Situations

Estate law is extremely complicated, a fact the examples above provide ample illustration of. If you have a large amount of assets, a confusing family history, or some other complicating factor, DIY sites generally do not provide all of the information necessary for you. The resulting documentation is often lacking as a result. Estate planning attorneys can help you navigate these more turbulent waters more successfully than you could on your own. They can also help you limit the amount of taxes ultimately taken out of your estate.

Using a estate planning attorney in Corona also reduces the chances that your estate spends a lot of time in probate, as DIY documents are statistically more likely to be flawed and therefore more likely to be legally challenged than their professionally crafted counterparts. No one benefits from delaying the distribution of your wealth, so the increased efficiency that an experienced estate planner provides is very important.

3. Potential Conflicts

It is natural to update wills and living trusts periodically, with the latest date taking precedence over the ones that came before it. If a family member would stand to benefit more from an earlier document, however, they may challenge whether the later document truly represented your wishes. This scenario almost always degenerates into a “he-said, he-said” situation that damages relationships on all sides while proving impossible to unravel in court. Documents drafted with professional help are overseen by an impartial third party, making it far easier to resolve any disputes before they cause a schism among your loved ones.

It is generally best to hire expert estate planning attorneys to ensure that your affairs are handled according to your wishes. Between the possibility of making a silly mistake, the intricacies of estate planning law, and the possibility that your family and friends will feud over your assets, it is just safer to trust an expert to handle everything correctly.

Do I Need An Estate Planning Attorney?

attorney filling out estate planFor some folks, estate planning is not a high priority. Some people don’t think they have an estate big enough to warrant an estate plan, while others simply don’t want to confront the unpleasant feelings associated with planning for their death.

 

Additionally, there is a contingency of people who believe that they can do their own estate planning with generic forms that they found on Google. We’ve put together the following handy guide to help you decide whether or not you should seek the services of an estate planning attorney in Corona.

What does an Estate Planning Attorney do?

Popular to common belief, there are actually many facets to estate planning. While you might think that planning your estate is simply just setting up a last will and testament, it actually scales far beyond that.

An estate planning attorney can also help develop a plan to mitigate estate taxes, form a living trust, and help to make sure that your assets are safe from the creditors of your beneficiaries after your death.

How can an estate lawyer help me?

An experienced estate planning lawyer makes sure that your will is carried out in the best possible manner.

To sum it up an estate lawyer helps you to:
• Create your last will and testament
• Draft living trusts
• Develop a comprehensive plan to avoid estate taxes
• Making arrangements in the event of your mental incapacitation
• Creating Power of attorneys and health care directives

When do you really need an estate attorney?

Experienced advice of an estate lawyer is recommended when you have more than one marriage, or you want to donate part of your assets to charity, or you want to mitigate estate tax etc.

If you have few assets, simple family dynamics and no complex financial arrangements, you can think of avoiding the services of an estate planning attorney. However, the ABA has issued a warning that do-it-yourself estate plans can be worse than actually doing nothing. It should be noted though that most estate planning attorneys in Riverside offer a free consultation that can help you determine whether or not an estate lawyer is necessary.

Do only the very rich need estate lawyers?

Even if you do not have millions, you can benefit from the advice and experience of an estate planning lawyer.

An experienced estate planning attorney stays focused, and on top of family dynamics and subtle legalities. He ensures that no problem surfaces in the carrying out of your will and last testament.

He ensures that an ex-spouse does non inherit unintended assets due to improper asset distribution timeline or there is no special needs family member losing out on government benefits due to improper paperwork.

Can a bank, brokerage firm or financial institution suffice?

A bank, brokerage firm or financial institution can only help you in planning your estate financially. They are not qualified to draft legal documents or lend you expert advice.

Estate planning has major links with Medicaid and tax planning when you are planning your financials. An experienced estate lawyer helps in drafting sound estate plans which hold legally and take into account various unexpected events.

An estate planning attorney offers great assistance in allocating your assets in complicated family and financial situations. The experience and advice which they bring to the table can help you in drafting sound wills and testaments. They also ensure that your paperwork is error free with no loss to any beneficiary regarding government taxes or creditors.

The Oldest Living Veteran is Young at Heart

American flag in front yardImagine living through World War II, having been at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked, experiencing the Civil Rights Movement, the change and turmoil of the sixties and the election of the first African American President. Now imagine still being around to talk about all the remarkable events you’ve seen. The oldest living veteran can be described as a walking archive. His name is Richard Overton, and he has seen and experienced history in ways that very few people have.

At 111, Richard Overton still enjoys a good Tampa sweet cigar–make that 12 cigars a day, and a drink of whiskey. Many well-meaning people might encourage a man of his years to give up the smokes, but Overton attributes his longevity to God and his cigars.

Born in 1906, Overton, a resident of Austin, Texas lives in the house he built 70 years ago on a street named after him. He spends most of the day sitting on his porch, listening to music and taking in all that’s going on around him–from birds chirping to neighbors passing by.

Overton was married twice and has outlived his closest relatives. Although he had no children, he has people who love him and make sure he has the resources he needs to remain in his home. In fact, with the help of his cousins who set up a GoFundMe page, Overton has around-the-clock in-home care. His caregivers make his favorite meals, including meatloaf and catfish.

On his 111th birthday, the city changed the name of the street where Overton resides to Richard Overton Avenue. That event brought out at least 200 well-wishers to his front lawn. Many of whom enjoyed having their photos taken with Overton. On that historic day, his neighbors showered Overton with tokens of love, including bottles of whiskey, coke and of course, those aromatic sweet cigars. In fact it is said that he still has several bottles of whiskey and Coke stash in various places throughout his home.

Richard Overton had the pleasure of doing something few people can claim. He met a president of the United States. Having made two trips to the White House, Overton met President Obama. During his first visit on Veterans Day in 2013, he received honors during a special ceremony. Not only has he met the president, he has met his share of professional athletes and other celebrities. In 2015, he was the subject of a documentary and at that time he was still driving, but has since ceased getting behind the wheel.

Overton had a bit of a setback when he was hospitalized for pneumonia. He received IV fluids to help him fight off a high fever and was not able to smoke during his stint in the hospital. However, being the determined one that he is, Richard Overton battled back and was able to resume his porch-sitting and being a welcome presence in his neighborhood.

Our estate planning attorneys love being able to share happy stories from our nation’s veterans. OC Elder Law specializes in helping our servicemen maximize veterans benefits. If you have a story about a veteran you would like us to feature in our blog, send us an email at info@ocelderlaw.com today!

Study Finds Link Between Dementia and Hearing Loss

doctor putting hearing aid in to patient's earYou certainly don’t need an estate planning attorney to tell you that life has many ups that are uncomfortably paired with many downs. It is hard to come face to face with some of the major issues that affect Americans such as hearing loss. This issue now affects about 48 million Americans, which is quite troubling. What is worse is that hearing loss seems to increase the chances of a person developing other serious maladies; such as dementia.

There are times when it seems like everything is against you, and this link definitely feels like one of those moments. It feels unfair to suffer from hearing loss only to turn around and deal with dementia as well. It should be noted that seniors consider dementia to be one of the more fearsome afflictions they could ever have; a survey pointed out that it is scarier to them than cancer.

Studies found the link between dementia and hearing loss, which has caused much concern, but it also tells specialists that treating hearing could prevent dementia in the future. It tells younger people to do their best to protect their hearing in order to avoid dementia or other cognitive issues in the future.
Researchers have not really found the reason this link exists though several experiments show the connection. Some do have a couple of theories. For example, hearing loss does mean that the brain will absorb less information. This could drastically cut the amount of stimulation the brain receives per day, which may have something to do with this connection. In essence, the theory is saying that the brain is like a muscle that needs flexing or it loses some of its power. Some researchers have also made similar connections to other human senses such as vision, which also seems to have a similar link to dementia.

Another possible explanation for this link may have to do with stressing the brain too much. A person with hearing loss has to force himself or herself to hear. This can create what some call a cognitive load. The brain cannot take the stress, which could end up hurting it in the long run, increasing the risk of dementia for seniors.

Of course, some say it has to do with people isolating themselves from others when they have a hard time hearing. People do not want to be with other people if hearing becomes such a big problem. It makes sense to want to isolate yourself in order to avoid the stress, but this could be a problem. Other studies show that social isolation can lead to cognitive decline.

Now, some of these theories suggest that the risk could be reversed or at least halted by simply dealing with hearing loss. Those already suffering from hearing loss may want to consider more precise hearing aids. These hearing aids may help revitalize the brain cells that have gone dormant or have shrunk due to hearing loss. A person who is dealing with hearing loss may have to do his or her best to try to talk to others more often, even if it is frustrating. This is going to take patience, but it may be worth it if it means the risk of dementia is reduced. Keep in mind that these solutions are merely based on the theories known so far, but it is important to keep up with the research to see if more concrete information is revealed regarding this link.

As estate planning attorneys we do our best to keep the public informed about issues relating to the seniors in our community. If you have a topic you would like us to cover, send us an email at info@ocelderlaw.com.