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Using software or pre-printed estate planning forms

With the proliferation of estate planning software programs and preprinted forms, some New Yorkers consider preparing their estate planning documents without professional help. There are important reasons why this is not always a good idea.

Estates differ from each other, and no two will require exactly the same approach. One problem with using preprinted forms or computer programs is that they take a one-size-fits-all approach to estate planning. While they may be okay to use for people with small estates containing few assets, people with more complicated portfolios may want to get legal assistance.

Another issue is that state laws also vary as do the requirements for properly executed estate planning documents. If the person writing a will does not execute it correctly, the probate court may disregard the document and instead pass the assets according to the applicable intestate laws. Computer programs used for preparing estate plans do not guarantee results. This means that if the estate is not handled correctly, the family will not have any recourse.

A primary goal of many people is the preservation of assets they hold so that they can then pass them on to their intended beneficiaries. Good estate plans should address all of the fine details so that a person's loved ones will have better protection. People may want to consult with an estate planning attorney about the needs and goals they have for their estates so that the appropriate documents can be prepared. It is important to note that there are other tools besides wills and trusts that may be helpful. People may want to appoint a trusted individual under a power of attorney so that the attorney-in-fact can make certain decisions should the principal become incapacitated and thus unable to do so.

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