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Estate planning should always be done with legal counsel

No one knows your intentions better than you, and it is likely you know the most about your finances and assets. It is probably tempting to plan your own bequests to your family, friends and favorite organizations upon death, but it takes more than knowing what one is working with to undertake estate planning.

Consumer products designed to help manage estates, like do-it-yourself software and form wills, can make the process seem simple. But estates, especially large ones, may be subject to unforeseen taxes and fees. Fixing these problems later can be costly or impossible.

A survey found only 44 percent of Americans have a last will and testament, the main document for estate plans. Some people may not wish to face the prospect of dealing with assets' fates after death, but others are likely put off by the possible cost and difficulty of estate planning.

Large estates or leaving assets for many relatives or beneficiaries may require more than a will as well. Living trusts can convey value and property to people in a way that avoids the complications of bequests, and these processes can save money in the long run while costing legal fees at present.

Legal bequests must also be prepared properly and filed with the appropriate authorities. An attorney also gives the estate planning process a personal consultant to think through the best ways of preserving and sharing value.

Even if you have started on the process yourself, it is advisable to have a lawyer help review and finalize this work. This can save time, cost and agreement among people who receive generous gifts from your estate.

Source: CT Post, "You can do your own estate plan, but should you?," Liz Weston, accessed March 07, 2018

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