You understand how important it is to have at least a basic estate plan in place. Despite this knowledge, you have yet to sit down with an estate planning attorney and create your estate plan. Moreover, you don’t foresee having the time or money to do so in the near future. Like many people, you may see using a DIY Will as the simple solution to your problem. After all, in the electronic age you can find just about anything on the internet, including “fill-in-the-blank” Last Will and Testament forms. Isn’t it better to use a DIY Will than to be without an estate plan at all? The surprising answer to that question is a resounding “no.” Using a DIY Will could end up costing your loved ones a considerable amount of time and money after you are gone, completely defeating the purpose of creating an estate plan in the first place. Consider the following dangers that go along with using a DIY Will.
Lack of State Specificity
DIY Wills are often not state specific and frequently include outdated laws or language. Stop and think about this. The entire purpose of a DIY legal document of any sort is to appeal to as many people as possible. That typically means that the DIY form you will get in California is the same as the one you will get in New York, despite the fact that state laws govern most issues relating to wills, trusts, and estates. By the same token, laws relating to wills, trusts, and estates, change frequently. Often, a change in the law warrants a change in the language used in a Last Will and Testament or a change in decisions made in your Will. Those DIY Will forms you find online or at the stationary store, however, do not change once they have been published. So that DIY Will you found online might, or might not, even be considered valid in the state where your estate ends up being probated. Having a Will that is not valid is actually worse than having no Will at all in most cases.
No Legal Advice
You cannot get advice about decisions you make in your Will using a DIY Will. Only a licensed attorney can give legal advice. Period. No exceptions. That means you are on your own when filling out your DIY Will – the most important legal document you will likely ever execute. Would you try to perform surgery without the benefit of a doctor’s advice? Would you try to repair your vehicle without being able to ask a mechanic for advice? Why then, would you try and create an important legal document without the ability to ask a lawyer for advice?
Overly Simplistic and Inflexible
DIY forms are too simple and lack flexibility. At best, a DIY Will might suffice for a single, childless, individual who has nothing more than personal property to gift. The minute you have something complicated, like minor children or a retirement plan, a DIY form can no longer handle it – or worse, tries to handle it and botches it horribly.
The Real Cost of Using a DIY Will
Along with the dangers involved in using a DIY Will, the true cost of using one can be much higher than you realize. You may think that using a DIY form off the internet is an economical solution to your problem; however, the money you save by not consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney will often be spent several times over by your loved ones after you are gone because of the problems with the Will you created. Using a DIY Will significantly increases the odds of your Will being contested by a beneficiary or heir of your estate. If someone does file a Will contest, it will greatly increase the time and money required to probate your estate. Not only will it take much monger for your loved ones to receive the assets you intended them to receive, but the costs involved in contesting the Will come out of your estate assets, meaning there will be less left over for your loved ones. In addition, if the Will you execute is found to be invalid as a result of the Will contest, or does not fully dispose of your estate, the assets that remain will be disposed of using your state’s intestate succession laws. In the end, this means you did not decide how your estate assets were distributed, the state did.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the dangers of using a DIY Will, contact the experienced New Hampshire estate planning attorneys at Debruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.