Estate planning is a critical part of ensuring that your wishes are carried out after you’ve passed away. But, with the help of online tools and services, do-it-yourself (DIY) estate planning has become increasingly popular. While DIY estate planning can be cost-effective, it might not be worth the risk when compared to working with an attorney or professional advisor. In this article, we’ll look at both Risks and Benefits of DIY Estate Planning so you can decide for yourself if it’s really worth it.
What Is DIY Estate Planning?
DIY estate planning refers to the process of creating a will, trust, or other legal documents related to the distribution of your assets after your death without the assistance of a lawyer or other professional.
It typically involves using online resources or legal software to draft and execute these documents on your own and can be a cost-effective option for individuals who have relatively simple estate planning needs and do not have complex assets or family situations.
However, it is important to understand that estate planning laws can be complex, and mistakes in estate planning can lead to unintended consequences such as invalidating the entire plan or leaving assets to unintended beneficiaries. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider whether DIY estate planning is the right option for your specific situation or whether seeking professional advice may be a better choice.
Pros of DIY Estate Planning
There are benefits associated with this type of estate planning, some of which we will explore here.
DIY Estate Planning May Save You Money in the Short Term
DIY estate planning can be an attractive option for those looking to save money in the short term. By taking on the responsibility for creating these documents yourself instead of hiring an estate planning attorney to do it for you, you can save on legal fees.
DIY Estate Planning is Convenient
Lastly, another advantage to using DIY estate planning tools is convenience—you can access them from anywhere at any time and don’t have to worry about dealing with any paperwork or filing deadlines like when working with lawyers or courts.
Cons of DIY Estate Planning
While it may seem like a great way to save money by avoiding lawyer fees, the truth is that an inexperienced person might not be aware of all the complexities involved in creating an effective estate plan. This can lead to costly mistakes down the line if something is overlooked or misinterpreted.
DIY Estate Planning Can’t Answer Your Questions
DIY estate planning tools are designed to provide a one-size-fits-all solution for creating basic estate planning documents. While these tools may be able to generate legal documents, they cannot answer your specific questions or take your unique financial situation into account.
DIY estate planning tools lack the ability to provide advice or guidance on complex legal and financial issues. This means that if you have questions or concerns about your estate plan, you will not be able to get answers.
DIY Estate Planning Doesn’t Keep Up with State Law
Another important consideration when it comes to DIY estate planning is that these tools may not keep up with the latest changes in state law. Estate planning laws can vary widely from state to state, and DIY estate planning tools may not be able to keep up with changes in these laws.
As a result, DIY estate planning documents may not be valid or enforceable if they do not comply with the current state law. This can result in unintended consequences, such as having your assets distributed in a way that you did not intend or having your estate plan invalidated altogether.
DIY Planning Mistakes Costs Your Family Time & Money in the Long Run
One of the most significant risks associated with DIY estate planning is the potential for mistakes that can cost your family time and money in the long run. Even seemingly small errors in your estate planning documents can lead to costly legal battles and delays in the distribution of your assets.
If your DIY estate planning documents are not legally valid, your family may need to spend significant time and money in probate court to contest the validity of your estate plan. Additionally, if your estate plan does not adequately address complex legal and financial issues, your family may have no choice but to hire legal and financial professionals to sort out these issues after you have passed away.
Considerations for DIY Vs. Professional Estate Planning
When considering estate planning, there are several important factors to consider when deciding between DIY estate planning and hiring a professional estate planning attorney.
Some of these considerations include:
DIY Estate Planning:
- Can be a cost-effective option for individuals with relatively simple estate planning needs
- May provide convenience and flexibility in the estate planning process
- Typically involves using online resources or legal software to draft and execute estate planning documents
Professional Estate Planning:
- Offers the expertise and knowledge of a trained estate planning attorney who can provide customized advice and guidance
- Can help ensure that estate planning documents comply with state laws and are legally valid and enforceable
- May help identify and address complex legal and financial issues that could be missed in DIY estate planning
- Can provide ongoing support and advice for changes to your estate plan as your circumstances change over time
Ultimately, the decision to use DIY estate planning or hire a professional estate planning attorney depends on your individual circumstances and the complexity of your estate planning needs. It is important to carefully consider the potential risks and benefits of each option before making a decision.
Choose the Right Plan for You — Call Hermance Law
If you want to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are protected, it is important to have a comprehensive estate plan in place.
At Hermance Law, we have the expertise and experience necessary to help you create an estate plan that meets your unique needs and goals.
Don’t risk the potential pitfalls of DIY estate planning. Our team of experienced estate planning attorneys can help you navigate the complex legal and financial issues involved in estate planning and ensure that your estate plan is legally valid and enforceable.
Contact Hermance Law today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward protecting your assets and your loved ones.