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You Can Create Your Own Estate Plan – But Should You?

When planning for your family’s future, it is inevitable that we think about where we will be in five, ten, fifteen years, and where our families will be when we pass. There is no denying that you know your own property wishes better than anyone else, so it seems rather appealing to execute your own estate plan; in fact, it seems that you may even save a lot of money. But while do-it-yourself estate planning may seem like a no-brainer, it is important to keep in mind that it can be even more expensive to fix any estate planning mistakes that you make, if they can even be fixed in the first place.

Mistakes Are Easier and More Costly to Make Than You Think

When it comes to your Will, the outcome could potentially be devastating. Even for those who believe that they live a simpler life and have minimal assets, when you make a mistake and it has unintended consequences, unfortunately there’s no way of bringing you back to life to fix and resign it. Some individuals may prefer a living Will in order to avoid probate (the need to establish the validity of a Will), which can on average take between six and nine months to complete.

For those with lack of understanding as to the intricacies of how estate-planning works, even using do-it-yourself software may not be enough. Often times botched Wills leave executors without enough money to pay for the estate’s taxes, causing much conflict, delay, and expense.

However, that is not to say that you should never create your own Will or other planning documents. For many people, having a do-it-yourself plan may be better than dying without a plan (intestate).

Roadblocks to Estate Planning and Proper Document Execution

According to a 2016 Gallup Poll survey, only 44 percent of Americans have a Will. This is somewhat alarming considering that many of these individuals have no way of directing their families – which often include minor children – after they are gone.

One of the biggest roadblocks for many avoiding estate planning is the notion of facing our own mortality. But the truth is that is better to have something in place for whenever the inevitable does occur.

Alternatively, some individuals are so afraid of the process, do not know where to start, or what they are doing, that instead of seeking help from a knowledgeable estate-planning attorney, they instead do nothing.

Benefits to Hiring an Estate Plan Attorney

While attorneys are often a more expensive route (in the here and now) than conducting your own estate plan or using an online platform like LegalZoom, there is certainly one value that these professionals can provide and others do not. Hiring an estate-planning attorney allows for you to sit down with a professional, share your specific story, wants, and needs, and seek advice from an expert who has seen just about every type of Will there is, and knows what could potentially go wrong.

And some situations are just plain inappropriate to choose the DIY method of estate planning. These include:

  1. Multi-million dollar estates

  2. Disabled Children/Individuals with Special Needs Who May Require a Special Needs Trust

  3. Blended families

  4. Properties in foreign countries

  5. Complex family businesses.

One of the best things that you can do for your family is to ensure that you estate planning has been completed in the correct manner, which will cause them the least amount of stress by not making them guess at your wishes. Tell them what you want.

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