Livens & Reed, PLLC

Do-it-yourself estate planning in Texas may not be good idea

There are many people who would like to save money on estate planning services. Due to this, a number of Texas residents utilize do-it-yourself web sites to create wills and other estate planning documents. While this can be cost-effective, blunders can occur that can cause disaster in the long run.

A woman used a web site to create her will and instructed for some property to be given to her sister. If her sister passed on before a certain time, then her brother would be next in line to receive the property. When the will was created, the form did not include a clause for all property that was not specifically gifted. The sister eventually died and the woman was left with money and property.

However, the brother came forward and claimed that he was the person to receive the property. The case was taken to the Supreme Court, and it was determined that the sister did not discard the remaining portion of the property. The court distributed the property based on the law of intestacy, which resulted in the nieces receiving a portion of the estate even though they were not listed in the will.

Saving money on estate planning is certainly appealing, but in many cases, using a do-it-yourself legal form could prove more costly in the future. Litigation costs typically go beyond having a legally binding estate plan in the first place. Texas residents who have not yet created an estate plan may benefit from exploring all of their options.

Source:, "Another Cautionary Tale About Do It Yourself Estate Planning", Matthew A. Levitsky, June 3, 2014

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