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Do-it-yourself estate planning may not be the best idea

Most Kent area residents know the importance of having an estate plan. Although most people know that estate plans are valuable some may think that they can be expensive. Do-it-yourself estate plans are available but can often lead to confusion.

Most people don't want to think about their death but it will happen to everyone. It is important for everyone to think about what will happen to them and their property when they become incapacitated and their death occurs. An estate plan is the way for people to legally state what their wishes are. An estate plan usually consists of a will, a power of attorney and an advanced health care directive (living will). The will can address how a person's assets are distributed after death. The power of attorney can delegate who will make the decisions regarding finances on the person's behalf, if the person is unable to do so themselves. Finally, the living will has instructions on health care interventions that should be done if the person becomes incapacitated.

The documents for a will, power of attorney and a living will can be created with resources in a book or on the Internet. But it is easy for a person to make mistakes when executing these documents, rendering them null and void. Many families also have complicated situations that will not work with the basic documents, such as children from previous marriages, business ownerships or children with special needs. Also, the laws regarding estate planning can change and online and other resources may not reflect the updates.

A legal professional with knowledge about estate planning can be a cost-effective tool for families to create an estate plan that is right for their unique situation and avoid the complexity of probate proceedings. An estate plan can help a family manage their needs and give them peace of mind.

Source:, "Money sense: Do-it-yourself estate planning has potential pitfalls", Marc A. Hebert, March 7, 2015

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