November, 2013

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The Drawbacks of DIY Estate Planning

Someone asked me today whether people could make a legal, binding will from a will-making program or online form on their computer. The short answer is yes, you could do that. And for some folks the resulting will may suffice. But of course there is a significant risk that the DIY will does not accomplish what the maker intended, or even makes things worse for the heirs.

I think this is analogous to me asking my friends who are carpenters if an inexperienced person like me could build an addition on my house by reading how to do it in a book. If I wanted to, I am sure I could work my way through it and get it done. But my friends who work in the trade could do it much quicker, more efficiently, and probably better than I. They would be able to anticipate problems in the construction simply because of their experience in the trade. They would know the best materials to use for the job and where to get them. I could learn all that if I wanted to put in the time. But if I wanted it done right in a short amount of time I would be better off just hiring a pro to do the work.

Making a will should be part of a process, which is generally called estate planning. When making a will there are often a lot of questions that should be addressed to make sure your affairs are in order. An experienced attorney will know what questions to ask to make sure you consider a range of issues. An experienced attorney knows what pitfalls to avoid because the attorney has seen the problems that can arise if people make poor decisions or fail to consider ramifications when they are making a will.

Following is a link to a post on the drawbacks of DIY estate planning on the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog.