In a society empowered to do-it-yourself (“DIY”), many turn to the internet to get step-by-step instructions on how to save money. In this environment of DIY sometimes it can become unclear as to when a professional is required, and when we can save money by figuring it out ourselves. I will admit that a good DIY project excites me; however, there are certain undertakings that even the bravest of do it yourselfers will admit are off limits. As professionals that have seen many DIY estate plans go wrong, attorneys at Pellittiere & Jonsson PLLC have compiled a list of the Five Dangers of DIY Estate Plans:
1. One-Size Does Not Fit All. Your estate plan should be customized to you. You might not realize all the options available. An attorney can help guide you on the best way to accomplish your goals in your plan.
2. Cost. While you may feel like you are saving money by using an online service to create your own estate planning documents, you may end of spending more. A primary issue with many of these fill-in-the blank forms, and DIY estate plan services is the plan is not implemented properly. It can cost much more to correct the estate plan than it would have been to retain the services of an attorney to prepare the plan the right way from the beginning.
3. Expertise of an Attorney. You may not understand the terms and legal language used in the document. One small mistake, omission, or misuse of a legal term and you could disinherit a grandchild, child, or even your spouse.
4. Counseling. An attorney provides more than just the expertise of drafting a properly executed estate plan. Often the estate planning attorney will provide guidance when making personal decisions such as who to name as the guardian for your minor children, or who to select as your agent under your power of attorney. A fill-in-the blank form is not going to be able to determine the best way to implement your intentions.
5. Estate Planning Is More Than Documents. Estate planning involves not only the drafting and execution of documents but involves the coordination of assets and beneficiary designations. You may think that you have a “simple” estate; however, an attorney can sort out the various factors that may require a more complex estate plan such as a child that has a disability, a second marriage, real estate owned outside of your state, or business ownership.
If you are debating creating your own estate plan, please make sure to read the fine print and realize that DIY estate planning is one risk you should not take. If you have any questions, or require assistance, contact Pellitiere & Jonsson PLLC Estate Law!