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Why you should avoid DIY estate planning

On Behalf of | May 5, 2021 | Estate Planning |

There are a lot of online resources out there to help you do just about anything, including estate planning. A lot of people think that creating their own estate plan with the guidance of the Internet will be simple and cost-effective. While that might be true to a certain extent, the risks are enormous, having years, perhaps even generations worth of implications. For that reason, you should carefully consider whether a do-it-yourself estate plan is best for you.

The risks of do-it-yourself estate planning

Although online resources might make estate planning look easy, the process is fraught with nuances that need properly addressing if you hope to obtain the results you want. Therefore, keep these considerations in mind before you start creating your own estate plan:

  • Over-simplification: A lot of online examples of estate planning documents are overly simplified. While a basic will might work in your circumstances, it might not depending on what you want out of your estate plan. For example, if you want to incentivize a loved one and only release assets to him or her upon the completion of a certain task or reaching a certain milestone, then a basic will isn’t going to get you what you want. This oversimplification can also leave out loved ones who may not inherit how you think they will. This can be especially true in blended families. Therefore, you need to recognize that your circumstances are unique and warrant a custom-tailored estate plan. If you want to retain some sort of control over your assets when you’re gone and/or ensure that they are distributed as you see fit, then you probably need a more detailed estate plan than the Internet can competently provide you.
  • Poor execution: In order to being legally enforceable, estate plan documents have to follow strict requirements. They must be drafted a certain way and executed in accordance with state law. Oftentimes, online resources fail to address this aspect of estate planning, which could leave you with free but legally ineffective documents. That means that your estate could be distributed in accordance with the state’s intestacy laws, which could go completely against how you want your assets to be inherited.
  • Lack of focus on state law: Similarly, online resources are generally very basic and have boilerplate language that may not comply with applicable state law. This can leave the documents open to attack by disgruntled family members or others with an interest in your estate. It can also leave you susceptible to intestate succession.
  • You may pay more: Most people turn to DIY estate planning because it saves them money. The truth of the matter, though, is that a mistake in an estate plan document can be costly to address. These costs can eat into your estate and leave your loved ones with less financial resources than you intended. Therefore, seeking help from a qualified legal professional may save you money in the long run while giving you peace of mind.

Do you want to learn more?

Reaching out to an estate planning attorney to inquire about his or her services isn’t a commitment, so don’t be afraid to reach out to a legal team that is dedicated to ensuring that estate planning needs and goals are met. After al, that’s the best way to learn about your options and develop the plan that is suited to address your unique needs. So, if you’re considering creating an estate plan, beware the risks of going at the process solo and instead think about securing the legal assistance that you need and that your estate and your loved ones deserve.



Photo of Jennifer D. Sharpe