When it comes time to make an estate plan, some want to try the DIY approach. Many different kinds of softwares and forms exist– all making estate planning look simple enough. This is all with the benefit of completing it from home, quickly, inexpensively, and without the need for an estate planning attorney.
In times where troubling life events are around every corner, these claims of a quick safety net seem like a necessary measure, but is it really the right choice?
While the DIY approach looks good on paper, it rarely, if ever, works smoothly in reality. DIY plans are usually riddled with mistakes, missing assets, and incomplete information. The more stressed you are when creating the document, the worse these problems become.
For each new challenge and mistake made, the more money is spent by your loved ones to try and put the pieces back together after the fact.
Unless you’re an estate planning attorney yourself, the only way to ensure a clean, correct, and accurate estate plan is by using a lawyer.
DIY Estate Planning Mistakes: Why You Should Never Make Your Own Estate Plan
1. Poor Understanding of the Law
Laws are changed over time to remain current and applicable to modern-day society.
Unless you work in law, when (and what) laws change is not something that is on your radar. Reading online articles can help your understanding, but you never know how accurately they reflect the law currently and whether the Courts tend to follow the standard you read about or something completely different.
These same laws and Court standards govern the way a probate judge is going to view your will in addition to the format it needs to take. If you plan your will yourself, there are countless mistakes you can make putting your entire estate plan in jeopardy.
2. Incomplete Documentation
Estate planning documents have to follow a certain form, contain certain information, and be signed and witnessed in a certain manner. Without all of these criteria being met, a will may be considered invalid. This could result in assets going through probate or having assets distributed in a way contrary to your wishes.
3. Not Planning Ahead For Family Members
When we are setting up our estate plans, we are commonly looking for ways to give back to our family after we are gone. Unfortunately, a common mistake in DIY estate planning is failing to plan for your family in the correct way.
One example of this is when a family has several children but one is either addicted to substances, disabled, or financially irresponsible.
In these cases, you want to make sure your loved ones are still receiving their fair share or the funding they need to live a good life, however, it’s not possible to simply sign assets over to their name.
Similarly, the DIY route offers little support for blended families or minor children.
4. Missing Out on Perks
Probate laws are complex, and there are a lot of them. This isn’t a bad thing when working with an attorney because many times they can be used to help you and your loved ones get some added perks out of the estate planning process. Unfortunately, many of these benefits are unknown to the average population.
Contact an Experienced estate planning attorney
Now more than ever it’s integral to make sure your estate is properly planned and crafted to provide you with the security you desire. As an attorney, I am committed to providing support and assistance to individuals to ensure they are in the best position possible.
Having a lawyer explain your estate planning options in simple English will make everything easier during a very difficult and challenging time. In this time where social distancing is important to the health and safety of our entire community, all appointments, other than document signings, will be over the phone at 602-996-4076 or by video call. If you have any questions, feel free to call or, preferably, email me at [email protected].