I know the primary value of this tool is that it is a less expensive option than using an attorney. If the choice is not having an estate plan for our children because we can’t afford one — or using a kit — certainly it is better to have something than nothing.
But as the Choice Mom attorney warned: "As single moms, we are faced with some unique estate issues that quickly become critical because we don’t have a spouse to take over in the event of our unexpected passing. Only an experienced wills/trust attorney will be able to help you navigate through issues like avoiding probate, identifying the necessary guardians for your children (short term and long term), setting up and funding trusts for the ongoing care of your child/children, and minimizing estate taxes in order to maximize the size of the estate left to your child/children. In my opinion, making sure that your will and related documents (i.e. trusts, guardianship, health-care directive, etc.) are accurate and complete and as uncontestable as possible is well worth the money."
Another Choice Mom attorney added: "While a do-it-yourself kit might be just fine for singles, our kids add a considerable amount of complexity to the issue of estate planning, and state laws vary. Yes, it is more expensive to hire an attorney to personalize a plan for you and your family, but the potential risks if you get it wrong are pretty high. Not to be a voice of doom, but this is one area where paying for professional advice is worth it I think."
One Choice Mom who was nearly done crafting her will with a Choice Mom-recommended local attorney had this to say: "He gave me suggestions when I was struggling between a few options, like who to appoint as power of attorney if my living will needs to be enacted. We set up a payment plan, which I’m almost done with. We still have to do our ‘interview.’ He’ll ask me questions about what I want my daughter to know if I were to die before she’s an adult. Has to do with values, morals, etc. While his fees are more than a will kit, I have peace of mind that everything makes sense and will hold up in court, especially since I appointed a friend as my daughter’s guardian, not a family member. That alone was worth it to me."
If you haven’t already seen it, please read this blog post about the importance of having an estate plan in place — even BEFORE you bring your child home.
I continue looking for estate attorneys who are recommended by Choice Moms. Please add your suggestions in the comments field below.