Avoid an estate plan fail

Avoid Drafting a “Pinterest Fail” Estate Plan
by Madison J. Dressman , Klenda Austerman Estate Planning Attorney

Every Pinterest DIY project begins with good intentions. You bundle up your freshly cut plywood, hunt to find the perfect paint color, and purchase at least a dozen hinges with feverous anticipation of potential success. However, once the final product is complete, you may realize that your final product doesn’t look anything like the pretty picture you found online.

In the new age of DIY projects, technology assistants, chat programs, and a multitude of media platforms, many are turning to modern technology to solve their day-to-day dilemmas. Legal services are no exception, as there are many automated drafting tools available online to assist customers with their end-of-life documentation. The fast, reasonably priced, and easy-to-use software is an appealing alternative compared to the more expensive and time-consuming process of seeking an attorney. However, are these programs too good to be true? Always. An attorney provides advantages that ChatGPT and the like just cannot, including personalized service.

Properly Executed Documents

Estate planning in Kansas is controlled by Kansas statute. To assure your document is enforceable you need to know that your document was properly executed in accordance with the correct Kansas statute. While some online software programs may offer state specific documentation, they may not be up-to-date or contain boilerplate provisions that may not be enforceable in Kansas. Such generalized language could result in an unenforceable estate plan.

Explaining Your Intentions

Death is the ultimate silencer. Once deceased, you will have lost your opportunity to communicate your thoughts, ideas, and wishes with the world. People who choose to draft their own documents run the risk of using ambiguous language or failing to include the necessary language required to make a proper distribution. Without your personal input on the matter, assets could end up in the wrong hands or heirs may seek to invalidate your documents on technical grounds and impose their own interpretation of your final wishes. An estate planning attorney can assist by using their estate litigation knowledge to avoid misinterpretations in your documents.

Flexibility

Life is unpredictable, and it can be difficult to prepare for all the curveballs thrown your way. Factors such as the birth of a new child or grandchild, the death of a loved one, a new marriage, messy divorce, or an unfortunate accident can affect how you want to distribute your assets or cause a need to protect assets for proper use. Having an estate planning attorney can help you plan a course of action for future circumstances and assist you through challenges as they occur.

Preventing (or Ensuring) Probate

The big scary word that everyone seems to want to avoid is Probate. Probate is the process of going to court to administer estate assets after some has passed away. People fear the name because the process can be expensive, time consuming, and the records are open to the public. Generally, each state has their own probate rules for proper administration. There are ways in which probate can be avoided and an attorney can walk you through all your options before you decide which documents to execute.

If probate administration is not avoidable, then drafting a Will and keeping it safe is incredibly important. If a Will is lost, misplaced, or unable to be found before the time period specified by statute, the Will cannot be honored by the court. An attorney will be able to help counsel the best course of action for keeping your documents safe for future use.

Conclusion

Although perusing “Pinterest fails” is an amusing way to spend an evening, they are less enjoyable to experience in real life and can be a mess to clean up. Estate planning is no different, as messy documentation can lead to a messy after death administration and a mountain of court costs. Many people can be hesitant to hire an estate planning attorney due to negative perception regarding lawyers or the legal profession. However, many attorneys enter the world of estate planning due to a drive and passion to help assist their community. As a young attorney myself, I am passionate about this field because of the opportunity to assist families in preparing, navigating, and eventually moving through one of the most natural, but difficult, aspects of life. People need more than forms; they need to know that they are making the right choice for their families and their future. A lawyer will never be the lowest price option available, but we are the most human.

Let the attorneys at Klenda Austerman help you avoid “Pinterest Failing” your estate planning documentation.