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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

The 6 Hidden Dangers of DIY Estate Planning

POSTED ON: September 20, 2017

Think Twice Before Creating an Estate Plan Yourself

It’s no secret how important it is to have an estate plan.  Dying without a will can have some expensive and unwanted consequences.  Just as basic and important as having an estate plan is making sure the right person is crafting it.  Estate planning software might seem like an easy solution, but in this post we visit one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you: consult a professional and not a piece of software!  

Every once in awhile we think about saving some money by doing a job ourselves that we would normally leave to a professional.  Putting in a new fence, getting a car repaired and even going to the doctor can be expensive, and sometimes it just feels easier to take care of it ourselves.  The developers of do it yourself estate planning software understand that feeling of just wanting to a save a few bucks. Unfortunately, when we take on a new and complicated project things can go wrong.  One of the biggest dangers of estate planning software is that the repercussions of our mistakes aren’t evident until we are gone.  In this post we will go over some of the main shortcomings of DIY software because when estate plans go wrong, there is no time to turn back.

  1. The Probate Nightmare:  As an estate lawyer, my job is to ensure your estate plan is executed as accurately and quickly as possible.  Usually this means I want my clients to avoid probate court.  Probate court can take years, is public information, and can be expensive.  DIY wills aren’t equipped to help you avoid probate.  Consulting a lawyer maximizes your family’s chance at privacy and efficacy in dealing with your estate.

2. Every State is Different:  Laws in each state are different, and estate planning laws change all the time.  For example, in the state of MA you need two disinterested witnesses to sign your will.  Estate planning software isn’t necessarily going to be updated every time a new law is passed in each state.

3. Guardianship:  If an emergency happened who would take care of your kids?  There’s a lot that goes into naming guardians.  A professional can help you see the whole picture and help you craft the best plan for your child’s care.

4Family Disputes: In a time of grief, things sometimes don’t go as planned, especially if there is already family tension.  You can leave your house to your wonderful niece, but without the right legal backing this can be contested by a jealous relative.

5. Each Estate Plan is Unique:  Estate plans are personalized for every person.  Your wishes, heirs, possessions and legacy are entirely your own.  A good lawyer who specializes in estate planning understands that everyone has unique wishes and circumstances and will make sure you are taken care of.

6. You Get What You Pay For: The difference in price between a professional and a piece of software is huge.  This should be one of the biggest red flags.  Pay now or your heirs will be paying later.   

Moral of the story:  always trust a professional for important tasks.  It will be quicker and easier than you think  and you will have the peace of mind of knowing that your plan will keep your legacy secure no matter what.