One of the more frequently asked questions on the Internet about estate law is: why do I need an attorney? There are many wonderful things about the Internet and one of them is the ability to get a lot of cheap, ready-made products such as wills. Generally, this lends the wrong impression of estate law; that the stakes are not high in this game.
Truthfully, a standard will is not something you would require the services of an attorney to write. We use forms with all the same clauses you find in online forms to put together your will because the legal rules of most states in regards to inheritance are pretty straightforward. When you die, depending upon whether or not you have children, you spouse is entitled to half or more of the estate. Probably three-quarters of all wills are standard. Where an estate attorney comes into play, and when you would need one is when there are large assets involved (over a million), you wish to establish trusts for your children and their children, you have a spouse or child that may require long-term medical care, or you own a business with another individual. These are the times when downloading legal forms off the Internet just aren’t enough.
Another reason why some individuals still choose even with a standard will is for storage reasons. As people get older they start to forget where they put things, they lose them, or maybe there was more than one will written for the estate—having an attorney oversee the will creation and storage makes things a lot easier.
As for other matters of an estate, revocable living trusts, business succession planning, elder care and hospice care—these are absolutely items that you should trust to an attorney. The laws in many cases have become too complex for most attorneys to figure out—much less our clients. When you have loved ones who are in need of care you will absolutely want to ensure that their future well-being is secured after you are gone, and therefore it becomes infinitely more important to have the assistance of an experienced attorney to create air-tight legal documents that will maintain their health and security after you are gone.