Understanding the Dangers Inherent in DIY Estate Planning

The internet has changed the way we run our lives and has allowed people to become fairly self-sufficient when it comes to complex tasks. We can gather information about our child’s illness, figure out how to pay off our debt, or learn how to remodel our home ourselves. While this approach might be acceptable for some aspects of our lives, one area that’s dangerous to sacrifice is the planning of your estate. It’s an enticing option to be able to fill in a few blanks online and have a will set in place just like that, yet there are dangers to approaching it in this way.

Updating Your Will With Accuracy

Let’s say you utilize a popular website that guides you step by step to create your own will. You complete the information they’re asking for and before you know it you have a document that you think is legally binding. However, depending on the state you live in, this document might not hold any weight at all.

Estate planning online doesn’t allow for witnesses to sign your will or get it notarized by a professional. Essentially, there isn’t any hard proof that you actually filled it in yourself. After you pass away, it would be very easy for a lawyer to poke holes in the document and state that maybe those weren’t your intentions after all.

Another aspect to consider has to do with the ever-changing landscape of estate planning laws. If laws in your state change in such a way that would make your document invalid, how will you know? It’s highly unlikely that online estate planning software has the capability to inform you when something in your will needs to be changed based on new laws.

Addressing Costs Now And Later

An attractive reason for completing estate planning online is that it can be far cheaper than hiring an experienced attorney to draw up your documents. While you might be saving money on the front end, a will that’s not formulated correctly could cost your heirs a lot of unnecessary expense. When a will goes through probate, there could be fees and administrative costs that weren’t considered when creating it online.

Ultimately, only an attorney with expertise in estate planning will be able to help you create a will that is legally binding and cost effective, and might offer ways for structuring your document so that it benefits everyone.

If you need assistance in drafting a will or any other aspect of estate planning, contact Hulbert & Associates today.

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Written by Lori Hulbert

Together the attorneys of the firm have nearly 30 years of experience in the fields of estate planning, estate and trust administration, estate and trust litigation, guardianships and conservatorships and civil litigation.