Legal Guide

7 Reasons Why You Should Avoid DIY Estate Plans

Estate planning is the process of arranging your affairs after you pass away. In recent years, many people have chosen DIY estate plans to avoid legal fees. This may seem like a good idea, but creating an estate plan yourself can cause serious problems in the future.

An experienced lawyer can produce a thorough, legally sound plan to safeguard your family’s future. Take a closer look at these seven key risks that come with going DIY on your estate plan:

1. Complexity of Legal Regulations

The laws regarding estate planning differ by state and are rarely simple. It is easy to overlook a legal nuance when you aren’t familiar with those laws when creating your own estate plan. Even one mistake could cost your heirs significantly more than you would save by not hiring a lawyer.

2. One Size Does Not Fit All

DIY plans use generic templates that are claimed to work for anyone. However, everyone has a different financial situation, and no template will provide all the options you need to meet your unique wishes and family dynamic.

This leaves you in the unenviable position of creating an incomplete estate plan or modifying the template in ways that might not be legal.

3. Potential for Errors and Omissions

Without a lawyer’s assistance in creating an estate plan, you will likely make mistakes or leave something important out. But even simple errors can cause extensive legal issues and misunderstandings, potentially invalidating the plan.

4. Lack of Legal Guidance and Advice

Another downside of DIY estate planning is that you can’t ask for advice or guidance. These services sell you a template and relatively basic instructions. The rest is up to you.

Searching the internet isn’t likely to provide you with the answers you need, especially for complicated issues like large estates, complex assets, and business ownership. You could spend as much on getting that crucial advice as you would have spent just to have a lawyer create the estate plan.

5. Overlooking Tax Implications

Estates have significant tax implications, both for you and your beneficiaries. It is best to address them while planning your estate. If you don’t, you could leave your heirs in a complex tax situation after you pass. Unfortunately, DIY plans don’t address tax issues.

6. Difficulties in Updating the Plan

Estate planning shouldn’t be a one-time deal. You need to be able to update your plan after any significant life change, like marriage, divorce, or the birth of children. It should also be regularly assessed to ensure it still accomplishes your goals. DIY plans are difficult to update, but lawyers usually charge little to assess and update estate plans.

7. Risks in Asset Distribution

DIY plans likely provide no help with asset distribution other than requiring you to name an executor. This means there is a good chance of your family encountering disputes or other legal challenges after you die. An attorney can help ensure your estate plan has legally sound instructions that are unlikely to be challenged.

An Estate Planning Lawyer Ensures Your Wishes Are Filled

DIY estate plans can leave you and your family vulnerable to various challenges, from tax issues to asset disputes. This is why professional assistance is vital in creating an estate plan. An estate planning lawyer can ensure your plan is legally sound and free of errors, protecting both your wishes and your family's interests.

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