Five risks of do-it-yourself estate planning

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2022 | Estate Planning |

There are a lot of misconceptions about the estate planning process. Perhaps the biggest is that most people don’t need an estate plan or that a basic estate plan will fit their needs. This point-of-view drives a lot of people to attempt estate planning on their own. If you’re on the verge of doing that, you may think that you’ll save time and money by doing so. After all, there are a lot of self-help resources online.

However, a do-it-yourself estate plan is dangerous, and it could leave you, your estate and your loved ones at risk. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons why you should forego DIY estate planning in favor of securing legal assistance:

  1. Lack of personalization: One of the greatest strengths of the estate planning process is that you can tailor it to suit your needs. However, most online resources and self-help guides are based on boilerplate documents that try to shove everyone into the same mold. You don’t want that. You want an estate plan that is customized to your vision of the future. You’re simply not going to get that from a DIY estate plan.
  2. Lack of adherence to state legal requirements: Because online estate planning documents are generic, they may not conform to state law. This is risky because seemingly minor omissions can render key estate planning documents invalid. This means that you run the risk of having your assets distributed in accordance with the state’s intestate succession laws rather than your wishes.
  3. Lack of comprehensiveness: A truly thorough estate plan is more detailed than many people realize. It typically involves much more than just a basic will. But the self-help guides out there probably aren’t going to direct you on how to create the appropriately holistic plan that you need, which is another reason why taking a DIY approach is extraordinarily risky.
  4. Lack of accountability: When you create your estate plan, you want to be able to rest easy knowing that it’s thorough and legally enforceable. But when you use online forms and resources, there’s no guarantee that you’re getting what you’re asking for. As such, if something goes wrong, there’s no one to turn to for accountability. This can leave you and your estate in trouble. By working with an attorney, in contrast, you can rest easy knowing that they have an obligation to provide you with competent representation.
  5. More expenses: Although you may be considering your DIY options as a way to save money, taking this approach can end up being even more costly than just seeking legal help to begin with. This is because unclear estate planning documents can lead to probate litigation that can be prolonged and expensive. It can also cause a lot of discord in your family, potentially even damaging familial relationships.

Take the confident approach needed to develop a comprehensive estate plan

If you want to have a holistic estate plan that suits your needs and protects your vision of the future, you need to know your options and have confidence that your legal documents are drafted with care. Fortunately, you can obtain strong legal representation to help you address your estate planning needs. Hopefully then you can take comfort knowing that you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do.

So, if you want to learn more about how an attorney can assist you in these matters, please consider reaching out to a legal team that you feel will give you the guidance that you need.