If you thinking about whether you need to hire an estate planning lawyer, consider this - estate planning is serious business. One wrong word or one missing signature can change the entire intent of a Will or Trust. Aside from this, the three reasons listed below should be enough to convince you to hire an experienced lawyer to prepare your estate planning documents.

LAWYERS ARE NECESSARY SINCE STATE LAWS GOVERN ESTATE PLANS. State laws are very specific about what can and can't be in a Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney; who can and can't serve as a Personal Representative, Trustee, or attorney-in-fact; who can and can't be a witness to a Will, trust; and what formalities must be observed when signing a Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney.

For example, if you live in Florida, a Personal Representative must either be related to you by blood or marriage or, if not, then a resident of the state. Non-resident, non-relatives simply can't serve, and in fact, won't be allowed to serve, in Florida. Working with a qualified estate planning lawyer will help you to avoid this kind of simple and yet costly mistake.

WITHOUT A LAWYER, THE BUYER MUST BEWARE. The Latin phrase, "caveat emptor," or “buyer beware,” certainly applies to estate planning. If you think that you'll be saving a few dollars by using forms found on the internet or in a do-it-yourself book to prepare your estate planning documents, then your family will be in for a rude awakening when they learn that part or all of your Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney isn't legally valid or won't work as you had anticipated. Thousands of dollars will then be spent by your loved ones working with an estate planning attorney after the fact to fix your mistakes.

LAWYERS CAN HELP SORT OUT COMPLEX FAMILY OR FINANCIAL SITUATIONS. Take a look at your life and your assets to see if you fit into one or more of the following categories:

* You're in a second (or later) marriage
* You own one or more businesses
* You own real estate in more than one state
* You have a disabled family member
* You have minor children
* You have children with addiction, gambling, or financial problems
* You don't have any children
* You want to leave some or all of your estate to charity
* You have substantial assets in 401(k)s and/or IRAs
* You were recently divorced
* You recently lost a spouse or other family member
* You have a taxable estate for federal and/or state estate tax purposes

If one or more of these situations apply to you, then you'll need the counseling and advice of an experienced estate planning lawyer to create your estate plan. Otherwise, it may be a probate lawyer and your state's department of revenue and/or the IRS that will receive the largest chunk of your estate.

If you have questions about how we can be of service to you, your family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to set up an appointment today. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.