Instant gratification has become the expectation in many cases during our current era, and this is largely due to the emergence of the Internet. Without question, the fact that you can obtain information about anything with the click of a mouse is a very good thing, but there are some pitfalls to avoid.
From a commercial perspective, there are many different offers out there. The idea is that you can sidestep the need for professional assistance if you use simple tools that are offered online. This enters into the realm of estate planning.
There are websites that sell generic, boilerplate estate planning documents. They offer one-size-fits-all estate plans that you can execute on your own if you fill in the blanks.
In reality, there is no one universal estate plan that would be ideal for everyone. Each family is different, and each situation is unique from every other. There are many different things to take into consideration, and the typical person would not understand the lay of the land without legal guidance.
For example, you may assume that you can simply use a last will that you create online as your vehicle of asset transfer. You could indeed use a boilerplate document, but are you sure that a last will is right for you? What if one of your loved ones squanders his or her direct inheritance too quickly?
Do you have someone with special needs in your family? A lump sum inheritance can cause a loss of need-based government benefit eligibility.
Even if a will could be acceptable, what do you know about the probate process? If you maintain direct personal possession of your property through to the time of your death, the will would be admitted to probate after your passing.
This is the legal process of estate administration, and it takes place under the supervision of a court. In a simple case, the process will take around a year, and the heirs do not receive their inheritances during this interim. Plus, there are significant expenses that can accumulate during probate. These expenditures reduce the value of the estate before it is passed on to the heirs.
Estate planning for small business owners can take on another level of complexity. Asset protection can be a concern, and you have to develop an exit strategy. Balancing inheritances can be a factor if you have some family members who will continue to run the business after you are gone.
Estate tax exposure is another possibility. People who are exposed to the federal estate tax must take steps to gain estate tax efficiency.
As you can see, there are many different scenarios that can exist, so there is no one-size-fits-all estate plan. If you would like to discuss your situation with a licensed legal professional, contact us through this page to set up a consultation: Sacramento CA Estate Planning Attorneys.