Do I need a lawyer to write a will?


As Californians get older and plan for the next phase of their lives, they have lots of things to consider. Not the least of these worries is planning and providing for spouses, children and even grandchildren. Not surprisingly, this gives rise to a whole other list of concerns, including retirement planning, assisted living planning, end of life decisions, asset protection and a host of other financial decisions that must be addressed.

If a person has a simple estate and few heirs, they may only want to consider drafting a simple will, which can be accomplished without a lawyer by any competent person with a few hours to spare. In fact, California has documents available for people who have simple estates or don't want to spend the money to consult with an estate planning professional.

But the reality for most Californians is that a simple will isn't nearly enough to adequately cover the multitude of concerns that come with substantial estate planning. For these people, the assistance of an estate planning attorney is highly recommended.

People who try to handle their estate plan entirely by themselves often quickly discover how complicated estate planning can be. Proper estate planning requires a knowledge of many areas of California state law, as well as familiarity with state and federal tax codes. It can be overwhelming, and the risk of making a costly mistake or leaving something incomplete can outweigh any financial incentive a person might have to take this on themselves. In most cases, the instinct to enlist the help of an estate planning attorney is often the right one.

The California State Bar Association has provided materials to help people know what to look for when making this important decision. There are over 160,000 licensed attorneys in California; many dabble in estate planning. Finding the right attorney can take patience, but a decision this important requires a person to be thorough.

Source: California State Bar, "HOW CAN I FIND AND HIRE THE RIGHT LAWYER?," accessed Nov. 29, 2014

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