The process of creating an estate plan can be complicated, and there are numerous DIY estate planning tools available to help. A lot of people believe that by turning to DIY estate planning they can save themselves money and still be able to create an effective plan. And while there is nothing wrong with educating yourself about estate planning topics and researching the issues yourself, we always caution people against creating an estate plan without an attorney’s guidance. Here is why.
DIY Estate Planning: Money Now or Money Later
Many people who seek out DIY estate planning do so because they are worried about the costs involved with hiring an attorney to craft a plan for them. While it may be true that a DIY estate plan is cheaper in the beginning, the real costs surrounding such plans often come later. What we mean to say is that with a DIY plan, estates often have to spend much more money later on than it would have if you had hired an attorney to write your plan at the start.
For example, take a last will and testament. While a basic will only has to meet some minimal legal requirements, that doesn’t mean that a document that only meets these requirements is legally effective. There are many minor details that experienced attorneys know to include with a will that are not directly addressed by state legal requirements. Should you leave these details out when you make a DIY will, the omissions or mistakes could cost your estate a lot more later on, because it will leave problems or unanswered questions.
DIY Estate Planning: Changing Laws
A person who creates a DIY estate plan usually does not know what the relevant laws are. Instead, these people rely on advice from books, Internet articles, or other sources to craft their DIY tools.
While the available DIY tools might be good, they can never be completely up-to-date, or contain all the detailed information you might need to know. Not only do laws change, but courts are constantly issuing new rulings that affect estate planning. Some of these rulings are minor, while others are more significant. It takes a trained attorney to determine which changes in the law are relevant to you and your situation.
DIY Estate Planning: Guidance
Perhaps the single greatest negative in the DIY estate planning process is that you cannot receive legal guidance when you craft your plan. Only licensed attorneys have the experience and knowledge necessary to give people legal advice based on their needs and circumstances. No DIY estate planning tool, regardless of how well written or comprehensive it may be, will ever be a substitute for a personalized advice an attorney can give you.