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Do You Need to Hire an Estate Planning Attorney?
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For example, if you are a high net worth individual, an estate planning attorney can help you with
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Do You Need to Hire an Estate Planning Attorney?
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Hi. My name is James Baron. I am a special education law and special needs estate planning attorney located in Waltham, Massachusetts. Today for About.com I am going to discuss the question of whether you need to hire an estate planning attorney.

Do You Need to Hire an Estate Planning Attorney?

Don't confuse the words “need” and “should.” Technically you don't need to hire dentist to pull a tooth, but you'd be a fool to try to pull it on your own. Similarly, you don't necessarily need to hire an estate planning attorney to do an estate plan, but again, it's probably not a very wise move to try to write an estate plan on your own.

Estate Planning Laws Vary from State to State

Many people are often under the mistaken assumption that they can simply download forms from the Internet to use for an estate plan, or utilize some of the off-the-shelf software in retail stores. One of the big problems with these approaches is that the laws of the various aspects of the state plans vary from state to state. What may be valid wording in one state may be invalid in another state.

The way a document needs to be witnessed or notarized may also vary from state to state. If you try to write an estate plan on your own without utilizing an estate planning attorney knowledgeable in the laws of your state, you run the risk that one or more of the documents, or parts of the documents, might be found to be invalid at the time they are most needed.

Estate Planning Laws Vary Within States

Furthermore, not only do laws vary from state to state, but laws within each state can change as well. For example, Massachusetts recently enacted the UPC. This was a major overhaul of the entire probate system. Many lawyers, court clerks, and judges have spent hours and days in classes learning about all of the changes that have taken place. It is unlikely that a non-attorney will know the intricacies of these changes, or that off-the-shelf software will have these changes built into them.

Estate Plans Are More Than Property

Many people are also under the mistaken assumption that simply because they don't have much property, they do not need an estate plan. That is not true. Even if you do not have much property that would be affected by a will upon your death, you still have to think about who will make decisions on your behalf if you are still alive but unable to make decisions for yourself.

Powers of attorney, healthcare proxies, advanced directives and HIPAA releases are all part of a standard estate plan, and apply to all adults regardless of the amount of property they have. So, even if you do not have a lot of property, an estate plan can still be a very useful set of documents.

Finally, the more complicated your own situation, the more likely it is that you should consult with an estate planning attorney for your state plan. For example, if you are a high net worth individual, an estate planning lawyer can assist you with the tax issues related to your estate plan. Also, if you or a close family member have a disability, a special needs estate planning lawyer can help you to protect your assets and your loved ones while helping to ensure that the disabled individual can qualify for government benefits. T

hanks for watching. To learn more about this topic, please visit About.com.
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