When considering if you should hire an estate planning lawyer versus using forms you can find online, 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 reasons listed below should be enough to convince you to go out and find and hire a lawyer to advise you and prepare your estate planning documents.

STATE LAWS GOVERN MOST ESTATE PLANNING TECHNIQUES. 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, health care surrogate, or attorney-in-fact; who can and can't be a witness to a Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney; and what formalities must be observed when signing a Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney.

BUYER BEWARE. The Latin phrase, “caveat emptor,” or “buyer beware,” definitely applies to estate planning. If you think that you'll save 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 a lawyer after the fact to fix your mistakes.

WE 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 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) 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 drug, alcohol, gambling, debt, or untrustworthy spouse problems
* 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 draft your estate planning documents. 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 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 represent clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.