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Estate planning - make it official

Perhaps you have been working on your estate planning for the last ten weeks, along with our blog post series on the topic. Maybe you have been working at it for a longer or shorter period of time--but that is immaterial. No matter how long you spend putting your estate plan together, the documents and decisions are worth more than a great deal of effort--they are worth peace of mind for you and your loved ones, and if you are a business owner, your employees, investors, etc. If you skip this final step and fail to make your plan official, all the rest is for virtually nothing.

This is because if documents aren't official (legitimately completed), they will not hold up legally and may as well be simply a complex letter to your loved ones expressing your wishes in the event you pass on or are unable to carry out certain tasks. We do not make that comparison to downplay the value of communication with your heirs, beneficiaries and executor. As previously stated in this series, that is of the utmost import. However, it is not enough. Imagine you have arranged for a guardian to take care of your children should the worst happen to you. Without officially prepared, and in some cases, notarized, documents, your children might end up as wards of the state.

There are many resources that exist which will allow you to create your own will or other estate planning documents online. However, relying on this practice can leave you vulnerable to not having your wishes met. If you wish to use those tools, they are best utilized as a method to prepare yourself for the decisions you will have to make in order to create your estate plan. Seeking professional counsel is highly recommended in order to avoid gaps both in the creation and execution of your estate plan. You've worked hard to make sure your wishes are understood and met--why leave to chance that they will be legally accepted?