With numerous online resources at your disposal, it may seem easy to create your own estate plan. Although creating one of these plans may seem simple, we discourage you from engaging in do-it-yourself estate planning. Why? Simply put, navigating this process without deep knowledge of the law can put you, your estate, and your loved ones at risk.
The dangers of creating your own estate plan
Unfortunately, a lot of people who use self-help resources to create their estate plans end up falling into one of a number of pitfalls. We don’t want to see that happen to you, which is why we want to bring the following shortcomings of DIY estate planning to your attention:
- Neglecting state law: Many estate planning templates found online are extraordinarily basic. This means that they’re not tailored to conform to the requirements found under state law. And if you utilize a document that doesn’t abide by the law, then the court could declare it invalid, which puts your estate at risk. Instead of following your wishes, your estate will follow the law of intestate succession, meaning the state’s laws will determine how your assets are distributed upon your passing.
- Lack of options: One of the greatest strengths of estate planning is that it is a wholly customizable process, meaning that you can tailor your estate plan to suit your needs. If you want to motivate a loved one to graduate college, then you can set up an incentive trust. If you need to provide care for a child with special medical needs, then you can utilize a special needs trust. If you overlook these specialized estate planning tools, then you could end up losing out on several benefits.
- Gaps in coverage: If you create your own estate plan, then you could end up having gaps in your plan that leave a lot of uncertainty. This can put certain assets at loved ones at risk, and it can lead to a lot of confusion and conflict amongst your family. If you neglect to create powers of attorneys or a health care directive, then your important financial and health care decisions may be left in the hands of someone you don’t know and don’t trust.
- Lack of clarity: When you work with an attorney to create your estate plan, you make your intent and justifications clear. But you might overlook doing so or inadequately do so when you create your own estate plan. This can lead to fighting amongst family member, which may even result in contests to certain portions of your estate plan. As a result, your family may see frayed relationships and your estate may experience excessive costs.
If these risks have you worried, then you may want to consider seeking guidance from an experienced estate planning attorney.
How an attorney can help you
An attorney who is knowledgeable in this area of the law can help guide you through the process while educating you on your options. This allows you to make fully informed decisions that are in your best interests and support your vision for your family and your estate’s future. That way, you can rest easy knowing that your estate is in good hands and that your loved ones are protected.