Not all estate plans are cut and dry. Family dynamics and life changing events have a direct impact on how estate planning documents are crafted and whether they cover all of your assets and wishes. There may be some situations where you may want a legal review when creating your online estate plan.
Do I Need an Attorney to Create My Online Estate Plan?
The short answer is no. Online estate planning has become popular in recent years. You can create a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Trust, and even documents for your pet, such as a Pet Trust and Pet Power of Attorney, through online agencies at a fraction of the cost of an attorney. But not all online estate planning companies are created equal.
Some just offer forms to fill out with little or no guidance. If you have questions, there may be no one to ask. Estate planning regulations vary from state-to-state, and you need to know if you are following the rules of your state when creating your documents.
Gentreo stands above the other online agencies by offering the tools and support to create customized, state-specific online plans designed by estate planning attorneys. We provide coaches to give you one-to-one, step-by-step guidance and instruction. And we have partnered with expert licensed estate planning attorneys in all 50 states so you will get the right answers to your legal questions in your state.
When Your Estate Plan May Need a Legal Review
There may be considerations that could complicate the process of creating your documents and you may want to consult an estate planning attorney to sort out. These include:
- Owning a Business – You may want to pass down your business to a son, daughter, or business partner when you die. A business succession plan would be needed in this case to keep the business running.
- Blended Family – Step children can create complexities when it comes to an estate plan. Issues can crop up with your new spouse and their children, your children, and even your ex-spouse. A Will and or a Trust needs to be carefully crafted.
- Tax Laws – These change all the time and can be confusing. Get advice as to how to minimize or avoid paying taxes on the estate and help beneficiaries pay as little as possible when they inherit assets.
Related: Tax Implications of Estate Planning
4. Guardian for Minor Children – Understanding the role of a guardian you choose for your minor children is critical.
5. Estranged Spouse – If you are separated, your estranged spouse still has rights to your estate. Specific language must be included in your Will to protect assets if a divorce is pending.
6. Domestic Partnership and Unmarried Couples – When it comes to inheritance, children, and ownership of assets, rules vary state-to-state for domestic partners and unmarried couples.
7. Assets in Other States or Another Country – If you own assets in another state or country, they do not come under the jurisdiction of the probate court in the state you die. Basically, this means that your Will is not valid in another state or country and could require multiple ancillary probate proceedings. You may need to create more than one Will that would meet the requirements of the state or country where your assets are located.
8. Special Needs Child – You may want to provide financial management for your special needs child while ensuring eligibility for benefits.
9. Disinheriting a Spouse or Child – A change in marital status or a change in financial needs may lead you to keeping a spouse or child out of your Will.
Gentreo coaches can connect with our network of third party estate planning attorneys to help you find one in your state for guidance when creating your online estate plan.
We can help you no matter your circumstances and those that want extra legal support and help through the process should consult an attorney.
Updating Your Estate Plan
Once an estate plan is created, it’s not a one-and-done thing. As life events happen, documents should be updated or amended. If you are unsure or have questions about what changes should be made, our estate planning attorneys are ready to help.
Among the events that should trigger a review and update of your estate plan are:
- Birth of a child
- Buying/selling assets
- Death of a beneficiary
- Moving to a new state
- Changing beneficiaries
- Inheriting assets
Get a Legal Review for Your Online Estate Plan
Not having a proper, legally-binding estate plan can have serious consequences down the road. An invalid Will could lead to family friction and litigation. If something happens to you and you don’t have representatives in place to make legal financial and health decisions on your behalf, it could result in undue hardship for your loved ones.
Get the expert legal advice and guidance you need from our partnered estate planning attorneys. Gentreo, our coaches and our partner attorneys are there for you – not just when you create your estate plan, but through the whole journey. As mentioned, life changes. When it does, so should your estate plan.