My last blog on digital assets made me think deeper about the Internet itself. The general public has so much information at their fingertips. With every advance, more information is readily available. With such an influx of information, what’s to stop people from creating their own estate plan online? I highly advise against it, but not because it’s a potential client lost. Doing your own estate plan when you’re not versed in the laws and without experience has the potential to create serious problems in your future. Read more to learn the importance of hiring an experienced professional attorney.
People who seek out the Internet to create their own estate plan, I feel, do so for a few reasons. Often times, they can’t hire an experienced professional attorney, but still, see the value in having a plan of action. This leads them to the idea of creating their own. Fifty percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing. If they have something to work with, it provides them a starting point for when they have the finances to hire an attorney. As a positive, something is better than nothing. However, it can leave your vulnerable to errors.
We’re all humans and we all make mistakes. Going with the “DIY” (do-it-yourself) route opens you up to mistakes. The Internet has a lot of correct facts on it, a lot of false information alongside interpretations and misleading stories. It’s not a one-stop-shop for everyone and their legal issues and wishes. Your individual estate needs are far different than your neighbor’s needs or your friends. In regards to creating a specific legacy for your surviving spouse, children, and grandchildren, your estate is not something you want to play around with.
In a common estate plan, various documents pertaining to health and assets must be drawn up. Dictating who in your life will receive which assets and who will have certain responsibilities is a language all its own. If what you create isn’t clear, your so-called estate could become null and void. That’s something I never want to see, much less har about. I believe everyone should secure their future with clear, concise instructions. Therefore, a simple solution or templated estate builder website off the Internet will not solve your problems.
No Sure-fire Legal Advice
Googling “how to create an estate plan” provides a slew convoluted websites each with content you won’t understand, unless you’re a lawyer. The majority of the public is not so, in essence, you’re creating more work for yourself without realizing it. Complexities like step-children, family members with existing health conditions, possibly even ongoing tax issues or businesses need to be handled by the experts. Additionally, documents like a health care proxy, living will, last will and testament and a power of attorney fall under this umbrella.
Continuing Education & Changing Laws
This is probably the most important and volatile case for not creating your own estate. Hypothetically, let’s say you do find the right information and create your estate online for an inexpensive cost. At the time you created your estate, the laws set forth were solid. Years later or even months later, many laws that fell under your estate plan have changed while your situation has not. Now your estate plan is outdated. What if you don’t understand how the changes truly affect you or your family? You’re out of luck and will need to start over.
Legislations are being repealed, amended and created that affect us all; the most pertinent of which fall under taxes, state and federal laws. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the need to stay up-to-date on these changes. Most likely, you won’t have the time or resources to stay ahead of the curve. Let the experienced professionals worry about the laws so you can focus on your life and your family best.
Any qualified attorney will have experience in creating these plans and will take the stress out of the equation. He or she will also explain the implications of your wishes to you and work through the process to ensure every goal of yours is met.
In conclusion, there are far too many potential risks by doing it yourself. An estate plan is not something wherein a shortcut should be taken or even considered. If it comes down to a matter of money, shop for an attorney within your budget. Better yet, save money to work with the best attorney to ensure your future is protected as best as it can be.
For questions regarding any of the topics discussed in this blog, please contact me directly at [email protected].
Thank you for reading,