Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning? Don’t!

Is the budget too tight to pay for an expensive estate plan right now? Why not do it yourself? How hard could it be? Actually, it can be very hard—hard on your wallet when it costs you thousands of dollars to fix the mistakes in the plan you made; and especially hard on your heirs when they’re fighting to get your estate through probate.

Creating your own estate plan may seem easy at first glance: download a couple of forms to fill out, pick your executor, list who gets what—but that’s just scratching the surface. For example, did you know that a bank account should be administered differently from a 401(k) account? Do you know how to ensure that your agents can make decisions for you without having to go through a lengthy and expensive conservatorship process? Or most simply, do you know how to keep your assets out of the probate courts?

These are only a few of the issues with which estate planning attorneys are trained to help you. Those D-I-Y forms are designed for a one-size-fits-all situation, and the truth is that there really is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all estate. If you have any of the following you are already beyond one-size-fits-all:

  • Retirement plans

  • Life insurance policies

  • Children in need of guardianship

  • Pets to provide for

  • A desire to pay for a beneficiary’s education

In estate planning, as with everything else in life, you get what you pay for. Estate planning attorneys have the education, the background, and the ongoing resources to create the very best plan for your unique needs. In addition, they can ensure that your plan will hold up under rapidly changing taxes and regulations.

Do-it-yourself is fine for making crafts and building bookcases, but when it comes to protecting your family and your estate—get the help of a professional.