We are living in an era where doing things yourself has become a source of pride. You can find any number of videos on the internet walking you through projects of all types, from how to create a coffee filter from a paper towel to full kitchen renovations. However, it’s one thing to cut a paper towel down-to-size and something else entirely to rip out your kitchen counters. The difference between gritty coffee and a ruined kitchen is vast.
You could apply the same perspective to legal work. It’s one thing to put your signature to documents and something else entirely to try to defend yourself against federal criminal charges. Really, what is estate planning but simply filling out documents? Do you really need a lawyer for that?
You should know that an effective, comprehensive estate plan involves more than filling in some blanks and signing your name. Here are some reasons to think twice before you attempt estate planning on your own.
Generic forms are exactly that
It might be stating the obvious, but a “canned” form you find on the internet will not account for the unique complexities of your situation. Think about how your family dynamics are different from your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Do you think you can accomplish your goals by using the same forms as everyone else?
Online wills and other estate planning documents are full of problems. While these forms can be useful for helping you think about what you want from your estate plan, only a legal professional can help tailor these documents to best suit your needs.
You get what you pay for
One of the main reasons do-it-yourself estate planning is so attractive is that it’s cheaper than hiring an attorney. However, online documents are often full of errors, and it’s unlikely that a “one-size-fits-all” will or trust will “fit” your situation at all. A mistake in the document could lead to significant attorney’s fees to correct the error. If a problem arises after you’re gone, your loved ones could find themselves hung up in legal disputes for years to come.
While the initial savings cost of an online form can seem worth it, the long-term expense can be significant. This is one case where you will most likely get what you pay for.
A simple will probably doesn’t cover all of your needs
Many people think an estate plan consists of little more than deciding who gets what. However, there are other considerations to take into account. What happens if you need long-term healthcare? Who will care for your children if you fall victim to a tragedy? An attorney can help answer these questions and address any other concerns you may have.