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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

Why Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning Can Be Risky

POSTED ON: March 9, 2020

It’s no secret how important it is to have an estate plan. Without an estate plan you leave important decisions up to the state and courts, and often end up significantly reducing the value of your estate.

Some people turn to do-it-yourself estate planning because it seems like an inexpensive and easy solution. The truth is that this path comes with too many risks that could cause your intended goals not to be met.

Why is it Risky?

You don’t know what you don’t know.
The truth is that someone not well versed in estate planning is more likely than an experienced lawyer to make a mistake in drafting a will, trust, or power of attorney. Legal jargon can be difficult to understand and choosing the right estate planning tools for your specific needs are essential. For example, it’s quite common for spouse #1 to think that their best option is to create a will that passes all their assets to spouse #2. But in doing this, spouse # 2 will end up with more assets, which could trigger paying estate taxes that she wouldn’t have to pay if an AB trust had been used. That means that fewer assets could end up being passed on to the couple’s beneficiaries.

Mistakes or poor wording could lead to family disputes or to your final wishes not being met.
Even minor mistakes can mess up an entire document, and by doing it yourself, there’s no one there to catch the error. Let’s say you have a baseball card collection and you write your will so that 1/3 of that collection goes to each of your three children. After you’re gone, how will your heirs know if you meant to give 1/3 of the value of your collection to each child or 1/3 of the actual number of your cards to each child. Precise wording of a will is incredibly important to avoid family disputes.

Estate planning laws are different in each state and laws change
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. If estate planning tax laws change, but you aren’t informed of that because you’re using a DIY estate planning tool, your estate could lose a lot of money down the line.

Why Use a Good Estate Planning Attorney?

Estate planning isn’t a cookie cutter operation.
Everyone has a unique situation and their own specific goals. You might need child protection planning, want to leave money to a grandchild for college, have a special needs child, or want to focus on asset protection so you can leave the most assets to your family. It’s important to create an estate plan that meets your specific needs. That means talking to an experienced estate planning attorney who will listen to your unique situation and then make recommendations to meet your chosen goals.

The best estate plan for you involves the extensive knowledge and experience of a qualified estate planning attorney.
We’re professionals who’ve worked in this field every day over many years, and have developed the expertise to advise you on how to achieve your goals. We’ve spent a significant amount of time learning the ins and outs of estate planning law as well as a wide variety of estate planning techniques to protect your assets and make sure that your specific wishes are carried out.

As an estate planning law firm, our job is to ensure your estate plan is executed as accurately and quickly as possible. Usually this means avoiding probate court. Probate court can take years and be expensive. DIY wills aren’t equipped to help you avoid probate.

We can help if there’s a dispute about your estate planning.
For example, if you leave someone out of your will or trust, that person might try to contest the document. If needed, we would be there as an impartial third party to testify about what your expressed desires were for distributing your assets.

Some things in life should only be done for you by a trusted professional. Creating your legal documents to make sure your wishes are carried out after you’re gone, is one of them. Doing your estate planning with us will be quicker and easier than you think, and you’ll then be able to enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that your estate will be distributed just the way you want. Call us today at 617.299.6976 or send an email to mkarr@maheritagelawcenter.com to schedule a confidential, no-cost consultation.