There are websites that sell generic, boilerplate legal documents, including simple wills. Their commercials make it sound like it is easy for anyone to get their affairs in order using DIY estate planning forms they purchased online.
Since so many people put estate planning on the back burner, this can sound like a simple solution, but this is actually a shortsighted perspective. In this post, we will look at four reasons why you should probably steer clear of do-it-yourself estate planning notions.
If you fill in the blanks on a boilerplate document and tuck it away somewhere with the idea that your family is protected, you may be making a mistake. For example, in order for a will to be valid in Kansas, you have to sign it in front of a notary and two witnesses and they must also sign the document.
In addition to the above, there is the “I’ll do it later” syndrome. Some people will have a nagging feeling that they should put a plan in place, and they see that they can buy a generic will online…
So, they stop thinking about it because they have decided that this is what they will do when they get around to it. Unfortunately, many of them never actually take action, and their loved ones pay the price.
Estate Administration Difficulties
After you pass away, there are administrative tasks that must be completed before your loved ones can receive their inheritances. If you create a will using a download or worksheet that you obtained online, you would name an executor or personal representative in the document. This is the person who would complete the hands-on administration tasks.
Do you know anyone who is qualified to act as the executor? Do you have any understanding of the expectations of the probate court? Are you aware of the value of a self-proving will?
There are costs that accumulate during probate, and it is a time-consuming process. No inheritances can be distributed while the court is probating the estate, and it will typically take nine months at minimum.
Filling in the blanks is one thing, but when you don’t understand the administration process that will unfold after your passing, you should not expect everything to go smoothly.
Settling for a Will When There Are Better Options
A lot of people are hardwired to the idea that they will be using a will because trusts are complicated documents that are very expensive to create. In reality, the revocable living trust is a cost-efficient and effective document that is ideal for a wide range of different people.
When you understand the benefits that living trusts provide, you will see that this document is better than a will in a number of different ways. This is one possibility, but there are other types of trusts that can be used to satisfy various objectives.
If you work with an attorney from our firm to complete your estate plan, we can gain an understanding of your situation and explain your options so you can make informed choices.
Don’t Defy the Experts
A number of years ago, the highly respected magazine and website Consumer Reports decided to put the subject of do-it-yourself estate planning under the microscope. People on their staff used worksheets that they got from three of the leading legal document websites to create simple wills.
They brought in three prominent legal professors and asked them to examine the documents. The attorneys found flaws, and they stated that negative consequences can come about when these downloads are used by inexperienced people.
Ultimately, the experts at Consumer Reports advised against DIY estate planning, and you may want to heed their advice.
We Are Here to Help!
At the end of the day, this is a matter of common sense. You would not draw up your own contract to purchase a home or a car, and many people do not even prepare their own tax returns. Why would you try to go it alone when it comes to estate planning when the stakes are so high?
If you are ready to work with an attorney to create a proper plan, you can send us a message to request a consultation, and we can be reached by phone at 913-262-2000.