Planning Your Own Estate: Are Lawyers Even Necessary?
With the advent of the internet, many people have turned to online resources to draft their own Will and other estate planning documents. Has the need for estate planning attorneys come to an end?
In an episode of the 1980’s sitcom Family Ties, Alex (Michael J. Fox) encounters his father, Mr. Keaton, preparing his own Will. Known for his greed, Alex provides Mr. Keaton with the following language that Alex believes would help distribute Mr. Keaton’s estate “fairly”:
“All Keaton property is divided up in the following manner: 100% of all assets go to Alex Keaton, to be distributed to Andrew, Mallory, and Jennifer, as the aforementioned Alex sees fit.”
To the viewer, it is evident that Alex wants to ensure that all of Mr. Keaton’s estate passes directly to him, and only to him, which Alex believes his language accomplishes.
In actuality, Alex’s language would likely be construed as Mr. Keaton creating a trust to which Alex would serve as trustee for the benefit of his siblings Andrew, Mallory, and Jennifer. Because Alex did not name himself as one of the persons to whom assets were “to be distributed,” Alex would in fact receive nothing under these terms in Mr. Keaton’s Will.
Estate planning attorneys have the requisite skills to counsel their clients and properly prepare personalized documents that clearly and precisely carry out their clients’ wishes, which no online resource or computer program can do.
Estate planning is not required, but it facilitates the transfer of your estate when you pass away. Proper planning allows you to protect and direct the distribution of your assets. If you are interested in creating or updating your current estate plan, we at The Becker Law Firm would be happy to answer your questions and help you.