List of Documents You Can Make With Estate Planning Software
The types of documents you can create with estate planning software will depend on which program you purchase. However, the following is a list of estate planning forms that are available with typical estate planning software programs:1. Last Will and Testament2. Financial Power of Attorney3. Living Will or Advance Health Care Directives4. Last Wishes or Memorial Preferences Document5. Organ Donation Instructions6. Estate Planning Letter of Instruction7. Child Guardianship Letter for Minor Children8. Pet Care Agreement or Instructions Regarding Pets
Disadvantages of Estate Planning Software
Using a software program to make an estate plan should be avoided unless you have absolutely no alternative. If you can afford to pay for even one or two estate planning documents to be prepared by a professional, you should go to an attorney before purchasing estate planning software.While I cannot list all the disadvantages of using estate planning software compared to having an attorney make your will or living trust, here is a short list of the most obvious ones:
1. You may fail to execute the documents properly, rendering them invalid or unenforceable. See
fatal errors in execution.2. You may add language or provisions that do not comply with applicable laws, resulting in your estate being distributed in a manner you did not intend.3. You may draft your estate plan in a manner that causes a will contest or costly litigation over your estate. See Will and Trust Disputes.4. You may fail to complete your estate plan by changing title to property when required to carry out certain provisions of your estate plan.5. The estate planning software you use may not be up to date or may not reflect recent changes in estate planning law, which could prevent some of your last wishes from being honored.6. Your estate may be subject to federal or state taxes that are not addressed by a basic estate planning software program. See
Only an attorney or tax professional can advise you on how to prepare your estate plan in light of current federal and state tax laws.Before making any changes to your estate plan, see
change my will. If you plan to prepare your own documents, talk with an attorney first about your unique circumstances so you are informed about important legal issues that may impact your estate plan or have serious ramifications for your heirs and beneficiaries. For tips on how to find an attorney to prepare your estate plan at a fixed price you can afford, go to
finding an attorney.
Free Estate Planning Forms
To create essential estate planning documents such as a will, living trust, power of attorney, and living will, you need to hire an attorney or purchase a reputable estate planning software program. However, some of the documents you should include with your estate plan are available for free. We offer many free estate plan forms on Pennyborn.com.
Estate Planning Software
If you have decided to create your estate planning documents without an attorney, there are several estate planning software programs that allow you to make a will, living will, power of attorney for finances, and other
estate planning documents. Some estate planning software programs also allow you to make other related types of documents to include in your estate plan, in addition to the most essential ones, such as a will and power of attorney. For example, if you want to name a guardian for minor children, leave instructions for final arrangements, name a caregiver for pets, and leave other instructions for handling your estate, you can get estate planning software for immediate download. Estate planning software allows you to create basic estate planning documents in the privacy of your own home and then execute them in the presence of a notary public and any required witnesses.If you are going on a trip or need to make your estate planning documents today for any reason, estate planning software is available. However, although estate planning software is a convenient option if you need to make a will quickly for any reason, it is no substitute for having your estate plan prepared by an experienced attorney.When using estate planning software to make an estate plan without a lawyer, make sure you refer to a reference guide with correct information on how to properly execute your will and other estate planning documents in a manner that complies with state law. For a list of current guides, go to
Will and Trust Books. A good estate planning manual will include
examples of different estate plans, guidance on how to handle specific estate planning issues, estate tax information, etc.
Estate Planning Software May Not Be Valid In All States
Inheritance rights and other laws relating to estate planning are primarily governed by state law. As a result, many estate planning forms need to be tailored with specific state laws in mind. Some states, such as Louisiana, have laws that are significantly different than those of other states.Before purchasing estate planning software, carefully review the packaging to determine whether it is designed for use by residents of the state where you are domiciled. You may find the software is not intended for use in certain states or territories. In these circumstances, contact an attorney licensed in your state for help with your estate plan.
Living Trust Software
Although a few companies offer software packages to make a basic living trust, using do it yourself software to create a trust document is not recommended. Estate planning trusts are very complex and should only be formed with the advice of a licensed attorney.If you use estate planning software to make a living trust, the list of mistakes you can make is endless. For example, you may not be aware of the tax ramifications of passing property through a trust or may not understand the ramifications of transferring title to property to the trustee of a living trust. In addition, to fully fund a
living trust, you typically need to transfer title to bank accounts, personal property, and other types of assets to have them pass through the trust and avoid probate of your estate. However, if you handle these transfers improperly or do not have a thorough understanding of how to administer a trust, you could create costly legal problems for yourself and your heirs. For a list of common mistakes when using an online program to make your own trust, go to Using Living Trust Forms.It may be tempting to save money by using estate planning software instead of paying fees to a lawyer. Nevertheless, drafting even the most basic estate planning documents on your own can lead to costly errors. When it comes to living trusts and other types of trusts, if you do not want to pay an attorney, it is probably best to avoid using this type of arrangement in your estate plan.
Tax Software For Inheritances, Gifts, Estates, and Trusts
If you received an inheritance or have engaged in transactions involving inherited assets during the tax year, you may have questions about what type of tax return you are required to file. See our article on
tax returns due.Several different brands of tax preparation software are available for filing 2017 tax returns. These come in different versions ranging from basic to those designed for preparing complex returns, such as for businesses, corporations, and trusts. You will need to select the version of tax software that allows you to calculate the cost basis of inherited property and gifted assets.Executors, trustees, and small business owners may want to review several different tax software programs before deciding which option to use when filing returns for estates, trusts, and small businesses. It is an affordable way to file required tax returns in some situations. Consult a CPA first to determine whether you need professional tax advice. Find a Tax Professional.