Is a DIY Estate Plan a Good Idea?

Most people find their daily lives punctuated by opportunities for self-service and suggestions that projects can be completed on their own. From ringing up your own purchase at a grocery store to completing a small home renovation project all by yourself, the idea of DIY is pervasive. Unfortunately, people might be tempted to take on projects that are better left to professionals.

Developing a comprehensive estate plan often falls into this latter category.

Rather than existing as one single document called an “Estate Plan,” the plan is actually a series of interlocking documents that each fulfill a different purpose – independent yet closely related to each other. While it might be tempting to create a will based on tools found online or in a bookstore, this document must be written to exacting standards for account for regional nuances and numerous contingencies.

What hazards can someone face after completing a DIY estate plan?

It is not uncommon for individuals to seek out a convenient, cost-effective DIY solution to their legal issues. Unfortunately, the cheaper solution isn’t always the better one.

  • Wills: A DIY will might seem like an acceptable solution but there are numerous factors that could prove challenging. Will revisions often need to be completed after every large asset purchase and significant life event. Additionally, a legal professional can advise you on various contingencies and changing tax consequences as your state revises legislation.
  • Trusts: While a will describes the distribution of assets to heirs, the trust focuses more directly on finances. An individual can fund a trust for minor children, for a charitable foundation or for pets and vacation homes. Unfortunately, with so many moving parts and financial restrictions, it is wise to seek the guidance of a skilled legal professional.

While it might be tempting to attempt to draft an estate plan on your own, you could introduce errors and future complications without realizing it. Having a legal professional provide insight and guidance is critical in these situations.