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Why bother hiring an elder law attorney?

This is the kind of question we hear a lot now that the internet is right at everyone’s fingertips. With all those do-it-yourself legal sites available, it may seem unnecessary to actually hire an attorney to handle your will, financial power of attorney documents and medical directives — but it’s not.

This is why it’s important to hire an elder law attorney when you’re working on your estate plans:

1. State laws can be very specific

State laws regarding what makes a will and other important documents legal are highly unique and specific. A simple mistake might not seem like much — but it can invalidate your will and throw everything into probate. (And that’s just a sample of what can wrong.)

2. You have no idea of the options available to you

Do you know the difference between a revocable an irrevocable trust? Most people don’t — which means they aren’t really equipped to understand the pros and cons of each. Nor are most people familiar with things like charitable trusts, spendthrift trusts, special-needs trusts, tax by-pass trusts and asset protection trusts (to name a few of the different trusts that are out there).

Trusts aren’t just for the ultra-wealthy. These days, trusts are used by a lot of ordinary individuals to protect their assets while they are alive and to protect their heirs (especially those with special needs or addictions) once they are gone. No online program can help you fully understand the options that are available to you and how to use them.

3. You need to be responsive to changes

What happens if the person you’ve chosen as your executor dies before you? What happens if you no longer trust the person who holds your medical power of attorney to direct your care? There are times when changes need to be made that have to be reflected in multiple documents — unless you want to end up in a legal mess that could be difficult (and expensive) to untangle.

There’s no substitution for the type of personal care that you can get from an elder law attorney. Trust your future to someone that cares about you personally — not a program you find online.