Gianesin Law Firm

Do I Need To Hire An Estate Planning Attorney Or Can I Do It On My Own?

Key Takeaways:

  • There are a few things that you can do to plan your estate without an estate planning attorney. One example is buying a life insurance policy and naming two beneficiaries (both a primary and secondary beneficiary).
  • When it comes to the vast majority of estate planning activities, however, you absolutely need the help of an experienced estate planning attorney.
  • Trying to “DIY” your estate plan online, or trying to use cheap “trust mill” services at events may backfire, and will almost always cause more problems than they solve.
  • Attorney Bryan Gianesin offers personalized, one-on-one service at fixed rates, and can help you plan and fund your estate today.

There are certainly a few things in estate planning that you can handle on your own, and that you would not need to hire an attorney for. One example is signing up for a life insurance policy. Life insurance policies can be considered estate planning, especially since they pass outside trusts and outside Probate, and typically have a designated beneficiary. It is important to designate both a primary and secondary beneficiary. For example, if your spouse is the principal beneficiary of your life insurance policy, and then you die together, it will be important to have designated a second beneficiary. Otherwise, the life insurance policy will be in Probate, and will be subject to extreme reduction and arbitrary misallocation through the Probate process.

However, for most of the rest of estate planning, it is a very, very bad idea to do things yourself. This may sound at first to be disingenuous, coming from an estate planning attorney, but the reality of the situation is that you do yourself an incredible disservice by trying to practice law DIY style through LegalZoom, or by going to what I call a trust mill.

Trust mills are situations where you go to some event and a lawyer and his staff say that they’ll do a trust for you for $1,500 or $1,000, or $800. Typically, in both online DIY estate planning and in using a trust mill, you are going to create more problems than you’re going to solve. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. If you really want to do the right thing, and the most beneficial thing, you will take care of your assets by going to an experienced, knowledgeable, attorney.

When you do not use an attorney, and either use a trust mill or try to do estate planning yourself, you are not going to receive the attention, care, or legally informed services that you need to create a functional estate plan. You will not be able to accommodate your particular needs, nor are you going to be able to create the vast number of documents (in addition to the actual trust) that are required for you to have a complete estate plan.

Basically, when you refuse to go to an attorney to create an estate plan, you’re just begging for problems. So many times, people bring me plans that they’ve created, or that relatives have created, and they are completely invalid—or inadvertently do something directly in opposition to the wishes of the deceased. It is worthwhile to spend the time, energy and money to have a proper estate plan so that you can actually be sure that things turn out the way you want them to when you become incapacitated and/or when you die. If you have more than $10,000 in total assets, you need an estate plan.

One particular problem with online services, for example, is that you typically have one general template for use in all cases, in all states, which cannot possibly—and does not, in fact—cover all of the areas that every person needs to cover in their estate plans.

A self-help situation or a trust mill discount trust service is not going to be able to accommodate your needs in the way that you think or hope. The decision to step up and spend a reasonable amount of money upfront for a reputable estate planning attorney is going to solve a lot of problems down the road. The cost of an estate plan is a small fraction of what you will spend in Probate Court.

What Sets You And Your Firm Apart In Handling Estate Planning Issues In California?

We are a small niche practice located in a Newport Beach, Orange County, very close to both North Orange County and South Orange County, as well as North San Diego County in California. I do not delegate any of the aspects of preparing an estate plan to an assistant, other than potentially making copies. I meet with you in person. I review your questionnaire. I am the one that inputs all of the information with regard to the required elements of your estate plan, and I do that all on a fixed fee basis.

I am also a specialist in real estate trusts, and will personally be the one managing your real estate planning and incorporating it into your trust. I run a small firm, and I prefer it be that way. Offering the level of personal attention and service that I offer has gotten me innumerable referrals from satisfied clients over the years.

What you need to remember, in closing, is that having an estate plan is step one. Number two is funding that estate plan. Think of the trust and the estate plan as a bucket. You need to put things in the bucket, and to do that, you have to fund the trust. This involves the transfer assets, brokerage accounts, bank accounts and other things into that trust in order to have it completed.

For more information on Hiring An Estate Planning Attorney In CA, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (949) 287-8884 today.

Gianesin Law Firm

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(949) 287-8884

Legal Disclaimer: All information in this document is meant to be general and educational in nature only and should not be relied upon as legal, business, or tax advice for your specific situation. Most discussions refer to laws and regulations as applied to a California corporation or other entity and these can vary by location, as can other factors in certain situations within California. It is always best to consult with an experienced business attorney before taking any action. This material is copyrighted. Any replication, use of, or any discussion as a result of these articles violated copyright law and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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