In today’s world of do-it-yourself (DIY) pretty much everything, it is no wonder that a question commonly asked is “Should I DIY My Own Estate Plan?” Many people have simple assets, beneficiaries who are easy to identify, and wishes that likely won’t be disputed. Unfortunately, even simple estate plans can lead to an agonizing probate process if a mistake is made somewhere in the plan.
Before deciding on that software or website solution, consider our thoughts on DIY estate planning, and contact an attorney to learn more about the variables that could affect how effective your estate plan really is.
Should I DIY My Own Estate Plan?
According to a 2016 Gallup Poll, only 44 percent of Americans have a will. As the most common estate planning document, a will is fundamental to guiding what happens to your assets after death. But it is not the only element of estate planning you should consider. There are several reasons why people choose not to estate plan – some are in denial that they need one, others think they have plenty of time, and yet others are intimidated by the estate planning process. While it is true that every estate plan is unique, and sometimes the process is complicated, there are definite benefits to working with an attorney as you work on your estate plan.
It is often observed that a DIY estate plan is better than no estate plan at all, but that typically depends on your situation. You can purchase DIY kits online and in some office supply stores, with a price ranging from $15 to $100. These kits may contain generic legal information, but they are not designed to be used in lieu of personal legal advice. Even though the up-front cost may be nominal, the outcome of a mistake or invalid document could cost you and your loved ones thousands of dollars.
For some, a DIY kit can be a good starting place, with legal advice or review to ensure that the documents are set up correctly. For others, estate planning can quickly become complicated beyond what DIY kits can manage, and then it is time to contact an attorney. There is really no one-size-fits-all process to creating a smart, secure, legal plan.
Why Personalized Legal Guidance is Worth the Cost
One way to look at estate planning is this – if there is a mistake in your will or other documents, there is no way to alter it after your death. That could result in a lengthy disputed probate process, and could result in your wishes not being upheld. Without a legally binding estate plan, your assets could be distributed based on state law, leaving your wishes and your loved ones out of the decision-making process.
Personalized legal guidance during estate planning is worth the cost because it ensures that your legal rights are protected, that your documents are legally binding, and that you have someone on your side to review and revise documents as needed. Furthermore, estate planning attorneys are often prepared to help your loved ones execute your wishes, and can often clarify issues that arise without lengthy dispute or drama.
Speaking of Cost…
Estate planning with an attorney will cost more than a DIY kit, but it is not unreasonable in most cases. Most attorneys will offer you a free consultation, where your estate plan needs are reviewed, and you will be provided with a quote. At this point, you can choose whether the services are affordable before entering into an agreement. Remember, you are not just paying for legal guidance, but peace of mind now and for the future.
Whether you decide to use a DIY kit or to contact an attorney is a decision only you can make. Before you choose, consider contacting our estate planning attorney to learn more about the risks and benefits of each estate planning option. Ultimately, what is most important is finding the option that is best for you.
Contact Daic Law to learn more about our estate planning services, or to schedule an initial consultation. Call our office at (713) 808-5246, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.