Do-It-Yourself Wills and Estate Plans: The Major Reasons to Think Before Going Down This Path

In today’s age of constant flux of economic conditions from government bailouts, to the flash crash in 2010, to the increase and then decrease of unemployment rates, there is constant awareness by every family to save every penny and look for the best deal when purchasing a product or service. Although, this is great advice to always be looking to save every penny that you can, you should think very carefully on whether choosing to do estate planning on the cheap and utilize a do-it-yourself service when it comes to your estate plan for your family. 

Businesses that offer online estate planning document production services do have a great business model and an attractive option for consumers: for a low one time fee, much cheaper than hiring an attorney in your local area, you can have your entire estate planning documents created nearly instantaneously. I will admit, I can see how this would be a very attractive option for consumers. You will be able to create an estate plan from the confines of your own home without ever having to speak with anyone, and without ever having to walk into an attorney’s office. 

However, creating do-it-yourself wills and estate plans can have severe and expensive consequences. For instance, without speaking with a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney you will never realize where the risks for your family exist, where there are holes in your estate plan, and even mistakes that could potentially wreck your estate plan and provide difficulty for your family when you are gone. 

For example, an experience and knowledgeable estate planning attorney could educate you on such matters as the delays, stresses, and costs of going through probate. In addition, speaking with an attorney would allow you to determine whether you need a trust to avoid probate, address concerns about your children losing their inheritance to divorce claims and creditor claims, address and limit possible estate and inheritance tax liability, and provide a way to protect your assets from future nursing home costs and expenses due to your long-term care. 

The unfortunate aspect of do-it-yourself wills and estate plans are that you never get the opportunity to uncover potential pitfalls that could result in you losing all of your assets in your final years, having your children’s inheritance subject to divorce and creditor claims, and even having the assets that leave behind reduced by estate and inheritance taxes which have a top rate of 40%. For these reasons, you should at least speak with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney before deciding whether to utilize a do-it-yourself estate planning service.

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