You undoubtedly understand the importance of having at least a rudimentary estate plan in place. If you have yet to start your plan despite knowing how important it is to have one, you may be tempted to turn to “Do-It-Yourself” forms found on the internet to save yourself time and money getting your plan started. The Woburn estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices explain why using DIY estate planning forms will likely cost you, your estate, and your loved ones considerably more time and money in the long run than they may you save in short run.
Problems with DIY Estate Forms
It can be tempting to simply download a stack of DIY estate planning forms, fill in the blanks, and congratulate yourself for finally getting your estate plan done. You may even think you are saving a significant amount of time and money by taking this route. In truth, you may be saving time and money right now; however, there may be a heavy price to pay later, down the road. The reality is that most of your estate planning documents will not be tested until much later in your life or after you are gone. At that point, you are no longer around to fix any problems that may arise – and there is a particularly good chance there will be problems, such as:
- Failure to distribute the entire estate –failure to distribute the entire estate is by far one of the most frequent problems caused using DIY estate planning forms. One of the primary reasons for creating an estate plan is to avoid the state’s intestate succession laws. If any assets are left out of your plan, however, an intestate estate proceeding will have to be initiated – which is exactly what you were trying to avoid.
- Out of date language or law – DIY forms you encounter on the internet may have been there for years. Applicable laws may have changed in the interim, making some of the language in the form, or the entire form, effectively worthless.
- Not state specific – many of the laws that govern estate planning matters are state laws. For this reason, estate planning forms must be state specific to ensure they will be valid. Many DIY forms, however, are generic and do not include state specific considerations.
- Failed interaction between documents – resorting to the use of a single DIY legal form is risky. Trying to use several that need to interact with each other is much more likely to result in failure because you need experienced legal advice to accomplish this. It can create a domino effect that send your entire estate into legal chaos.
- Improper execution – for many estate planning forms to be valid, they must be executed using the proper legal formalities. This is when some DIY forms fail completely because they do not even explain how the state you live in requires you to execute the document.
- Lack of legal advice and guidance– despite assurances that some DIY legal documents come with the ability to ask an attorney for advice, there simply is no substitute for a lengthy in-person consultation with an attorney from your state who focuses his/her practice on estate planning.
After You Are Gone Is When Your Plan Will Be Tested
The true test of the legality and effectiveness of your estate plan will likely not occur until you are gone. This compounds the problems because there is no way to clear up vague language, fix an error, or explain an omission. In turn, this often leads to litigation during the probate of an estate. If your estate ends up in litigation during the probate process, the costs associated with that litigation will result in diminishing the value of your estate, meaning your loved ones will receive less than you intended. It will also hold up the transfer of assets to your intended beneficiaries. Ultimately, your loved ones may pay a hefty price for your use of DIY estate planning forms.
Contact Woburn Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about estate planning, contact the Woburn estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.
A common misconception is that an estate plan is not needed until you amass considerable assets. In truth, you should create at least a basic estate plan as soon as you begin your first career job.
There is no way to determine how much your estate plan will cost without first consulting with an estate planning attorney; however, a basic plan will almost certainly cost you less than you may think.
Have an experienced estate planning attorney review the document as soon as possible to determine if the document will work as intended or if changes need to be made.