We are seeing a rise in DIY estate planning services and even hearing about people still using handwritten wills in place of consulting a professional to help with estate planning. With the pandemic bringing to light the importance of having your affairs in order, many people are scrambling to put together an estate plan and with the rise of DIY estate planning services to support this movement, it’s important to consider if these cookie cutter plans are actually covering what you need them to.
A DIY estate plan can mean either a handwritten will or other documents, or using a document generating service where you’re typically filling in the blanks on premade templates. While some of these online services have become more sophisticated, it’s still up in the air as to whether the plans will work when the time comes.
Your State May Not Consider Your DIY Plan as Valid
Each state has its own laws when it comes to probate and how estate plans are executed. With many of the online DIY estate planning services, you are filling in the blanks and receiving cookie cutter documents. If you have minor assets, this may be acceptable for you. However, if you have a decent amount of wealth, a complicated financial situation, or complex family circumstances, then a DIY estate plan may not cover everything you’re hoping for and also may not be applicable in your state.
A DIY Estate Plan May Fail Your Blended Family
With a complex family situation, you may not even know what you need to have in your plan to fully express your wishes or what would work best to protect your assets. We’ve previously written about how estate planning is different for blended families and the more complicated the situation, the better it is to consult a professional. You don’t want to accidentally disinherit someone, or start any rifts between your beneficiaries. Aside from who your assets will be left to, tax planning is also a part estate planning that many don’t think about. A professional will help to determine the best route for your assets so your loved ones aren’t potentially left with nothing but bills.
Your estate plan will need to be updated as your life changes. How easy will that be with an online service? Would you need to start over? With a DIY estate plan you might not know what you need to update as your life changes and if you’re changing documents without a professional, you could be changing things for the worse. Your state will also have different requirements for what makes your estate plan documents valid, these may fall through the cracks if you aren’t aware.
In the end, having some kind of plan is better than having no plan. But to make sure your loved ones aren’t left picking up the pieces while they are already grieving, consider consulting with a professional when it comes to your estate planning. Just give us a call, and we’ll help you review your options.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein. While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is a substitute for, qualified legal advice. Your review or receipt of this article by Lexern Law Offices, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG.