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Beware the dangers of DIY estate planning

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2021 | Estate Planning |

A lot of people think that estate planning is something that they don’t need, or something that is so simple that they can take care of it on their own. Both options are dangerous, though, threatening to leave your estate and your loved ones without the protection that they need. If you’re struggling to see the value in formal estate planning, then you might want to consider these dangers of do-it-yourself estate planning:

  • Boilerplate language: A lot of DIY estate planning documents contain boilerplate language. This can be problematic for several reasons. To start, it doesn’t give you flexibility that you might want in your estate plan. Such boilerplate language might also fail to adhere to the laws of your state. This, in turn, can lead to validity issues further down the road, threatening to derail your estate plan and leave your loved ones fighting over your estate.
  • No accountability: Turning to the Internet can be an okay way to gather information, but there’s no accountability. You might think that an online form is legitimate, but what if it’s not? There are no standards, which means that most online forums are untrustworthy. By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, on the other hand, you obtain guidance and advice from someone who is well-versed in this area of the law and relies on great work to build his or her reputation. These attorneys are bound by the law and ethics rules, which should mean that you get competent representation and accountability.
  • Lack of options: You might think that you just want a simple estate plan, but a lot of people find that once they know the full extent of their estate planning options, they see a greater need for a more detailed plan. By turning to DIY resources, you might miss out on the estate planning vehicles that best suit your needs as well as those of your loved ones.
  • More costs: Most people who turn to do-it-yourself resources do so to save money. But the truth of the matter is that DIY estate planning can be more expensive than working with an attorney to have an estate plan created. This is because a DIY estate plan is more likely to lead to legal challenges and probate issues that are time-consuming and expensive. Additionally, by foregoing formal estate planning, you may miss out on tax advantages and other legal maneuvers that could save your estate and your loved ones money.
  • DIY is rarely holistic: You should try to remember that you’re working on an estate plan, not merely pieces of paper that direct the flow of assets. Through formal estate planning, you can determine who will obtain guardianship of your children, who will make important financial and healthcare decisions in the event that you become incapacitated, and how your loved ones will act when you’re no longer around. DIY estate plans rarely address all of these important topics.

Don’t leave the future of your estate and your loved ones at risk

Competent estate planning is more important than most people realize. That’s why going it alone is so worrisome. If you’re looking into estate planning and wondering what you can do to protect your loved ones and your estate as fully as possible, then you really should make sure that you educate yourself as much as possible so that you can make the fully informed decisions that are right for you. So, if you’d like to learn more about how formal estate planning can be beneficial, then we encourage you to read up on the topic and maybe even speak with an attorney who is well-versed in this area of the law.




Photo of Jennifer D. Sharpe