Thanks to a plethora of software and how-to guides on the Internet and elsewhere, you can make your own home repairs, fix your own car, and even prepare your taxes. But what about creating your own estate plan? DIY estate planning has become popular with many people who want to avoid attorney's fees and other costs associated with planning their own estate. But planning your estate without the help of a probate attorney may not always be the best solution. Here are a few things you should know before you think about taking on this important task.
Reasons for DIY Estate Planning
There are a couple of major reasons why some people choose to go it alone when it comes to planning their estate. The first involves the cost of DIY estate planning compared to working with an experienced attorney. For those who are already struggling with other expenses, DIY estate planning may seem like a much cheaper alternative to the hundreds or even thousands of dollars paid in attorney's fees for ordinary estate planning.
The second reason involves the consequences of dying without a will or other estate planning documents. Completely forgoing estate planning places you at risk of dying intestate—this means that the state can step in and govern the process of dividing available assets as it sees fit. If you don't have any surviving family to leave your assets to, the state may simply assume control of all your assets and dispose of them as it sees fit. In other words, having some form of estate planning is usually better than not having any estate planning at all.
Understanding the Potential Pitfalls
Although there are a few benefits to DIY estate planning, there are several disadvantages to consider before you start planning your own estate:
- Mistakes are easy to make and costly to fix - The world of estate planning can be complex at times, thanks to different estate scenarios that often require unique approaches to a particular issue. As a result, it's all too easy to make a mistake that could have unintentional and long-lasting consequences when it comes to your estate. Fixing these mistakes can also prove costly, as you may need documents and active assistance from a probate attorney, which could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
- Estate planning laws can change faster than the software - The law isn't written in stone, so new legislation and case law can unexpectedly change long-standing laws regarding estates. However, most DIY estate planning software and self-help websites aren't updated fast enough to account for these changes.
- The language used may be too simplified or it may fail to cover some issues - Most DIY estate planning packets and software use simplified and standardized language to cover most estate-planning scenarios. But if you have a particular circumstance that requires more detailed language, you may not be able to make your intentions crystal-clear when it comes to the disposition of your estate.
- You won't have access to legal advice - DIY estate planning also leaves you without access to the comprehensive and detailed legal advice that can be provided by your probate attorney. Going at the estate planning process alone can put you at a severe legal disadvantage.
When You Should Turn to a Probate Attorney
While DIY estate planning may be doable for situations that only require a simplified will, situations that involve multiple family members and other beneficiaries or high-value assets such as real estate, stocks, and other financial instruments usually require the expertise of a seasoned probate attorney. Your attorney will not only offer expert advice for planning your estate, but they will also provide the documents and other tools necessary to create a legal solution that works best for your needs. To learn more, contact a law firm like the Law Offices Of Timothy L Lapointe PC.Share