Unfortunately, not all estate planning tools are created equal. “Bare-bones” documents, for example, frequently do not accomplish what they were intended to accomplish. Worse still, they can actually have a costly negative impact on your estate plan instead of helping to achieve your estate planning goals and objectives. So what should you do if you have a bare-bones trust as part of your estate plan? The simple answer is to have an experienced Missouri estate planning attorney prepare a new trust agreement document for you to replace the bare-bones version you currently have.
The term “bare-bones” refers to a legal document that is effectively a “fill-in-the-blank” document. Often these forms can be purchased at a local stationary store or downloaded off the internet for a small fee or even at no cost. Unfortunately for people who use them the old adage “you get what you pay for” often applies. Bare-bones forms often fail to achieve the desired purpose for several common reasons, including:
- The forms include outdated laws or regulations. Laws relating to wills, trusts, and estates are subject to change – and frequently do change. DIY forms were often published several years ago and do not take into account any changes in the law since that time.
- The form is not state-specific. Many aspects of wills, trusts, and estates are governed by state law. Generic, bare-bones forms typically do not take state laws and procedural requirements into account.
- Instructions are not included or are severely lacking in substance. Only an attorney can give you legal advice. Therefore, the instructions that may be included with a DIY legal form do not actually provide you with any substantive advice.
- There is no way to consider the impact on other estate planning tools and strategies. A comprehensive estate plan should be just that – comprehensive. The impact of every addition to the plan should be considered in relation to existing components.
- The form may not have been properly executed. An improperly executed legal form is invalid. Unfortunately, in the case of estate planning forms the fact that the form is invalid may not come to light until you are gone, leaving your loved ones to deal with the repercussions.
The intent of most estate plans is to protect and provide for loved ones. If you include bare-bones legal forms in your estate plan, however, you may achieve the opposite. You may set your loved ones up for a protracted, and costly, legal battle over your estate that could have been avoided if you had simply taken the time to work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
If you have additional questions or concerns relating to trust agreements, please be sure to contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.