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Should New York residents do their estate planning on their own?

When it comes to legal matters, it is often a mistake to undertake them alone. Even so, many New York residents attempt to do their own estate planning believing that generic forms they find on the internet are sufficient to complete the task. Unfortunately, their families could end up paying the price when the time comes due to deficiencies in the documents.

As is the case in every other state in the country, New York has specific laws regarding estate-planning documents. Failing to properly execute the documents, one wrong word or missing words, and other errors could mean all the effort is wasted when the individuals pass away or become incapacitated. For instance, the law dictates who can and cannot serve as a personal representative of an estate, who can serve as a witness to the signing of documents such as wills and trusts, and what formalities must be followed in order to make sure a document meets with the court's scrutiny.

It may be tempting to use do-it-yourself forms from the internet in order to save money, but the money saved on the creation end of the documents could end up being spent by surviving loved ones when it turns out the documents are inadequate. A court could rule all or part of an important document such as a will, power of attorney or trust invalid, which could result in further unnecessary court proceedings for surviving family members. These proceedings will take additional, time, effort and financial resources, which will diminish the value of the estate.

In order to avoid these eventualities, estate planning would be better left to an experienced attorney. The upfront costs often pay for themselves when the time comes since surviving family members do not have to waste time and resources correcting problems later. Moreover, an estate plan's creator will have peace of mind that his or her wishes are properly expressed.

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