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Estate Planning as an Art

Arden Dale had an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal yesterday, comparing estate planning to art instead of science. It's an interesting point, in no small part, because of the increasing amount of estate planning tools that allow one to create their will from the comfort of home, without hiring an attorney.

Dale's point is that, many times, estate planning clients aren't always as forthcoming as they should be about the extent of their assets. This or they simply do not have a good record of them or their worth.

A good attorney, then, will be able to guide the client by helping to value assets - or guide the client in discovering the value so that it can be accounted for in his or her estate plan.

This, Dale claims, is an art.

It involves intuition, knowing what questions to ask and where to ask them. It involves experience, having the background to properly evaluate a client's assets and help preserve the estate for family and loved ones.

All of these attributes are ones that are missing in the "do-it-yourself" estate planning kits. While you can certainly create a legally binding will online, many times you will miss the additional value provided by human assistance.

Being said, only you can make a decision as to your own best option. An estate planning attorney may be the "best case" scenario, but sometimes the best case isn't the one immediately available. However, if you can accommodate the advice of a live attorney, it's certainly worth considering.

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