Beware the dangers of DIY estate planning

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2024 | Estate Planning |

We live in the age of information. When you need to know something, it’s easy to turn to the Internet to find the answers you’re looking for. But when it comes to creating legal documents, including those pertaining to estate planning, relying on online resources and do-it-yourself guides can put you at risk. And if the validity of your estate is jeopardized, then your hard-earned assets could fall into the hands of those you don’t trust or those you don’t want to inherit from you.

It’s okay if you’re considering DIY estate planning, but there are some associated risks that you should be aware of. Let’s take a closer look at them so you know what you’re up against when deciding which course of action is right for you.

Top risks of DIY estate planning

There’s a lot at stake when you create an estate plan. Asset distribution, medical care, and financial decision-making can all hang in the balance without a strong estate plan in place. While you might be tempted to save time and money by creating your own estate plan, there’s some danger in doing that. Here are some of the more common disadvantages of DIY estate planning:

  • Cost: DIY estate planning might seem cheaper than traditional estate planning, but it can turn out to be much more expensive if your estate plan is challenged in probate court. Litigation could eat away a significant portion of your estate, and the outcome could be something other than what you’d hoped for. That’s why it’s better to turn to a more formal process for your estate planning needs and avoid any lingering questions that require litigation.
  • Oversimplification: Online templates are very basic. If you use them, then you might miss out on some estate planning opportunities that could prove advantageous to you and your beneficiaries. This can ultimately be costly to your estate and to your loved ones’ futures.
  • Lack of modification: Creating your own estate plan can leave you feeling secure, but your estate planning documents need to be revisited from time to time to ensure that they’re modified to suit your needs. Online resources may not give you flexibility to modify your plan as you see fit. This can lead to your assets falling into the wrong hands and creating confusion among your loved ones.
  • Lack of dispute assistance: If your estate does get challenged, it is important to have someone to support and justify the actions you took. With a DIY estate plan, you don’t have anyone who can testify as to your true intentions or your capacity to make contested decisions. By working closely with an attorney, you can have someone advocate for you and your estate even after you’re gone.
  • Lack of assurance: Although you hope that your DIY estate plan is legally sufficient, if you’re not an attorney, you might not know for sure. This can create a lot of uncertainty and risk long-term. The fear of legal insufficiency can be put to rest by working with an attorney who knows the nuances of estate planning law.

Protect your interests when creating your estate plan

We understand the appeal of DIY estate planning. However, if you want to protect your interests as fully as possible, then you need an estate plan that’s thorough and legally sound. That’s why you might be better off discussing your estate planning goals with a trusted attorney to give you the guidance you deserve.