Today is the second in our four-part series on common mistakes that are made with Do-It-Yourself estate plans.
The internet offers all the information and tools we need at our fingertips to create our own estate plan, right? For most people, this is simply not true. Several years ago, Consumer Reports®, an independent nonprofit consumer watchdog group, created wills using the forms provided by D-I-Y websites and asked three law professors to review them.
Although the professors found that the wills drafted using the D-I-Y services were better than wills drafted by non-lawyers on their own, they were inadequate to fully meet the needs of most consumers.
Although your D-I-Y “estate plan” may initially cost only $99.95, it may end up being much, much more expensive than an estate plan designed by an experienced estate planning attorney.
A D-I-Y estate plan could contain inaccurate, incomplete, or contradictory information.
For example, if you create a will using an online questionnaire, there is the possibility that you may select the wrong option or leave out important information that could prevent your will from accomplishing your goals. In addition, some online services allow users to insert additional information not addressed by their questionnaire that could contradict other parts of the will.
Your D-I-Y estate plan may not account for changing life circumstances and different scenarios that could arise.
For example, if you create a will in which you leave everything to your two children, what happens if one of those children dies before you? Will that child’s share go entirely to his or her sibling—or will it go to the child’s offspring? What if one of your children accumulates a lot of debt? Is it okay with you if the money or property the indebted child inherits is vulnerable to claims of the child’s creditors? What if your will states your daughter will receive the family home as her only inheritance, but it is sold shortly before you die? Will she inherit nothing? As opposed to a computer program, an experienced estate planning attorney will help you think through the potential changes and contingencies that could have an impact on your estate plan and design a plan that prevents unintended results that could frustrate your estate planning goals.
We Can Help
A DIY estate plan can lead to a false sense of security because it may not achieve what you think it does. If your DIY will is not valid, your property and money will go to heirs specified by state law—who may not be the people you would have chosen. An unfunded trust will be ineffective. Banks may not accept a generic power of attorney you found on the internet. Laws affecting your estate plan may change. These are just some of the mistakes or unforeseen issues that could cost your family dearly. An experienced estate planning attorney is aware of any trends in the law that could dramatically affect your estate plan and has the expertise needed to help you design and create a comprehensive plan. Call us today so we can help provide you and your family with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have an estate plan that accomplishes your goals and will avoid unnecessary attorneys’ fees, headaches, or conflict for your grieving family when you pass away.
At Marvel Law, we are here to help serve you with purpose. Click here to email us or call us at 309-807-2885 for your FREE 15-minute consultation.