America has long been a do-it-yourself society. Especially in the age of the internet and social media, it seems like you can find tutorials and materials for just about any subject you want to take on.
Normally, taking the DIY approach can save you money and be a satisfying experience while still ensuring good results. But there are some tasks that still require a professional to be done correctly. One of those tasks is estate planning.
A recent news article discussed some of the problems that you are likely to encounter if you employ the DIY approach to estate planning. They include:
- Not being able to customize: templated forms printed online cannot be customized to reflect your unique estate or instructions for it.
- You may not be saving money: You will save money on the front end, but any mistakes you make could end up costing your loved ones a lot more money to try and fix later on.
- Mistakes could create hardship for your heirs: You won’t be around to answer questions and fix problems with your estate planning documents when they will most likely be discovered. You don’t want to risk disinheriting someone or making some other error that causes hardship to those you love.
- No expert advice: An estate planning attorney can help you make the most of your estate and give you input on critical decisions beyond what happens to your assets (such as answering questions about naming a guardian for your minor children).
- Your estate may be more complex than DIY forms can handle: If you own real estate in another state, if you are on your second marriage or you have a child with a disability, these could create logistical and planning issues too complex for fill-in-the-blank forms. But they are easily resolved if you are working with a good attorney.
One final advantage of hiring a professional is that you are more likely to start and ultimately finish your estate plan. It is far too easy to put off this important work, either because it is tedious/confusing or because no one likes to think about their own mortality. Thankfully, an attorney can guide you gently through the process and help you come up with an estate plan that you can be sure is thorough and legally sound.