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  • Northern Virginia Trusts & Estates

Don’t Gamble with DIY Estate Planning

The online revolution over the last 10 or 15 years has made it very easy to find the answers to perform nearly anything, including how to develop a DIY estate plan. Even though there are many answers available to create a do-it-yourself estate plan, exactly how much is the individual saving, and is there any potential of risks involved?

While it is true that there are answers all across the Internet about things like how to bake a cake or how to trim a tree, these are all affairs that are relatively free of risk. In essence, no one will perform their own medical surgery simply by studying on the Internet how it is done. The risks are just too great. Much the same can be expected by DIY estate planning, even if it might seem like an economically feasible idea.

There are a few serious potential pitfalls of creating a do-it-yourself estate plan. These include:

No Attorney Present

Perhaps the most crucial aspects of any properly created estate plan involve obtaining the best answers to difficult questions. With proper answers to good questions, an attorney specializing in estate planning will have all the proper tools necessary to fully prepare the right set of legal documents that have been tailored for your needs. Many estates involve serious issues, such as the proper distribution to heirs including children. Creating the proper provisions is just one of the key components of effective estate planning that often requires the skills of an experienced attorney.

A One-Size-Fits-All Plan

The only way to create a do-it-yourself estate planning form that does not involve an attorney is to make it a one-size-fits-all solution. It minimizes many of the available options in order to create a document that is easy to comprehend and follow along. The simplicity built into the online document usually cannot address many of the more complicated circumstances that are family-specific. The estates of families with young children are much different than those with adult children no longer living at home. Even children that are from previous marriages will need to be handled in a different way to ensure the proper transfer of ownership. Simply put, line do-it-yourself estate plans simply do not have effective tools that protect the estate or the beneficiaries.

No Room for Error

It is important to recognize that men and women simply make mistakes. Even estate plans that are generated by attorney can contain mistakes that if not properly addressed could produce serious consequences. Any mistake that is made by a non-attorney will generate no recourse, and no ability to rectify the problem. Alternatively, attorney strive to make sure that the estate plan is checked, rechecked, and checked again before finalizing it. In the event that a mistake does get past the attorney, their malpractice liability insurance provides recourse for the client, as a way to recover the damages.

Not State Specific

Every state in the nation has its own unique laws concerning estate planning. The one-size-fits-all online do-it-yourself estate planning solution is simply not state specific.

Alternatively, estate planning that is generated by a licensed attorney in the state will be written to comply with all state laws.

No Proper Formalities

Estate planning is all about legal formalities. By state law, specific formalities need to be followed to ensure that the documents remain valid. When properly written, following the essential formalities, the individual can be assured that the estate plan will distribute his or her assets correctly, with little taxing impact on the heirs.

While the Internet does provide a lot of information for do-it-yourself individuals, it is best to pay a premium price for having an estate plan created by a licensed attorney that understands the state’s laws.

If you have questions about estate planning, please check out some of our online resources by clicking on the links below:


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