The desire to “do things yourself” is a genuine phenomenon. The internet is full of videos explaining how to perform simple repairs to teaching you how to do electrical work. There’s even a DIY cable network. However, there’s a significant gap in watching a tutorial about how to paint an accent wall in your home to replacing your plumbing. If your paint job doesn’t turn out so well, you can try again with minimal fuss and expense. If you’re not a licensed plumber, taking on a plumbing project is likely to be an expensive disaster.
Just as it’s probably not wise to take on a DIY plumbing or electrical project, you’d be ill-served to attempt a DIY estate plan. Potential dangers exist at every turn.
Online forms are uniform
A simple online search will return many results for pre-printed or “canned” estate planning forms. However, your family situation is likely much different from that of your neighbors. An online form cannot account for the details necessary for creating a comprehensive estate plan. These forms can be useful for getting yourself to think about the things you’d like your estate plan to cover. However, it takes a skilled professional to tailor a plan that will best suit your needs.
Any immediate cost savings can be a major expense down the road
The major draw of using a canned form is that they’re inexpensive. They are much cheaper than having an attorney create a customized estate plan. However, errors are commonplace, and a pre-printed form may not address the things that are important to you. If you need to correct a mistake, you will probably have to turn to an attorney anyways. If an error is spotted until after you’re gone, your family could become entangled in an expensive legal dispute. While the initial cost of using a lawyer may seem significant, it will save you and your loved ones the cost of fixing things at some point in the future.
An estate plan often involves more than a simple will
Estate planning should involve more than making a list of who gets what. An attorney can help address more complex situations, including things you may not have initially considered. Maybe you have a child with special needs. Perhaps you’ve remarried and have stepchildren. Maybe you own property in another state. A lawyer can help address all of these situations and provide you with the tools you need to ensure your wishes will be honored.