April Magazines 2018 89123 - Page 34

Tell Us About... Chances are that if you speak to anyone who has the words “create a will & trust” on their list of things to do, you’ll hear two things. The first is that they have been meaning to get it done but haven’t had the time and the second is that when they finally get around to it, they’ll likely go online and do it themselves since it’s easy and inexpensive. As an attorney, I realize this is the way of the world today. However, I also know that just because you can pay $100 and check it off your list, doesn't mean you should. And unfortunately, many people learn this the hard way. The true story of James and his family home: James Monroe had lived in the same home that was passed down to him by his parents for over 30 years. Suffice to say, it meant a lot to him and his own family. As they grew older, his wife began to pester him to sell the home and downsize. She wanted less to take care of and have more money for their golden years. But James wouldn’t budge. While his inten­ tions were good, when he passed away he left his family with the burden of a home they were not prepared to handle. James was the sole owner of the home and made it clear in his will that it would stay in the family, yet his wife was in her 80’s and their kids had their own homes and fam­ ilies to care for. They simply didn’t have the ability to take care of this home or pay for the taxes and maintenance. When you’re preparing your estate plans, emotions can play a huge part but it’s critical to keep your family and their desires in mind. While the home had meaning to James, he should have taken the time to realize that his family and their needs are just as important. Had he consulted the scenario with an attorney or anyone with unbiased knowledge, he would have realized the burden he would be leaving upon his death. Here are a few more reasons why creating a will and trust yourself can cost you down the line: 34 EACH STATE HAS DIFFERENT LAWS & REGULATIONS To ensure they don’t run into any of these issues, online do it yourself sites make the process as simple as possible to comply with the laws of each state. However, every family is different and every family’s situation is dif­ ferent, thereby making the cookie cutter approach dangerous for families April/May 2018 SPONSORED CONTENT believing their documents are valid. Give yourself and your family more worth than fitting into a blank template meant for anyone and everyone. And most importantly, don’t leave your family to suffer when it’s time for the courts to officially recognize the will and they deem it invalid. It hap­ pens often and pains me each time I have to watch a family who is mourn­ ing the loss of a loved one while also dealing with a legal hurdle. ANYTHING CONSIDERED “COMPLEX” SHOULD NEVER BE DONE ONLINE Things like multiple marriages and blended families, property in differ­ ent states, owning one or more businesses, end of life decisions and more will need special attention. And this is just the beginning of what can be deemed “complex” for an online form. The majority of people will have at least one or more of these issues that need to be addressed in their estate planning. MOST PEOPLE SAY THEIR KIDS GET ALONG AND WOULD NEVER FIGHT OVER MONEY Believe me when I say that things change, especially when it comes to money. Sometimes children marry someone who the parents don’t approve of, or dynamics in relationships change. Even if you never think something like this could apply to your family, make your wishes known so there is no question when the time comes to sort through your affairs. Your children will be mourning your loss so don’t leave them with contentious legal complications. Your will and trust is your final voice. There are too many fac­ tors to contend with and it’s not the time to be frugal with your hard earned assets. I have seen countless people spend more money trying to fix an estate that wasn’t set up prop­ erly than if they had set it up properly from the beginning. Please take the time to have a competent attorney advise and direct you so that your estate is clear and simple for those you leave behind. Bob Massi Attorney at Law