While we all love to save money and time, your estate plan is not a good place to cut corners. DIY estate planners often use inexpensive will templates and generic online legal advice to draft an estate plan on the cheap. A new Wall Street Journal article, gives a few reasons to reconsider this strategy.
- Your lack of knowledge of the situation. Those who are not familiar with legal jargon should not try to decide which type of power of attorney is right for them. My daughter had a part-time job at an office supply store which sold estate planning documents on CDs. Customers would often ask her “what is a living will?” and “which one of these do I need?” If you find yourself seeking legal advice from a teenage office supply store employee, you are asking for problems. Further, complex situations such as blended families, special needs children, trusts and tax avoidance should not be attempted without professional help.
- What if you made a mistake? DIY estate planning can be high risk and low reward. When drafting your own estate plan, ask yourself how you would feel if you left a mess for your loved ones because you were trying to save a few dollars. If the thought troubles you, it’s probably not worth the risk.
- Could there be a dispute? In situations that are likely to involve family fighting over an inheritance, it is best not to have a DIY will. If a case might be brought to court, you will want your wishes expressed clearly to ensure they will be honored.