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  • Northern Virginia Trusts & Estates

Problems with Online DIY Estate Planning

It’s always admirable to try tackling a task on your own.

Every day people elect to handle their own car repairs, home improvements and other projects that they may not be formally qualified for.

Sometimes, though, it’s simply not worth the risk. Estate planning, for example, has serious consequences that will affect your loved ones long after you’re able to do anything about it. Here are some examples we’ve seen with DIY estate planning that hopefully will provide you with a better understanding of why estate planning is one project you should definitely leave to the professionals.

The Temptation of Do It Yourself

Plenty of challenges that once seemed best left to the professionals are now accessible to the masses thank to the Internet. In fact, one of the most popular search phrases in the area of estate planning is “online wills”.

Options include everything from blogs, articles and directories that seek to explain legalese to the reader to actual services that claim the user only needs to input information and then file the forms to complete their planning. They all tempt the general public by assuring them a quality product at much lower prices.

Unfortunately, these options are fraught with risks.

“You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know”

Here’s the easiest risk to point out: you’re not an expert when it comes to estate planning, which in and of itself is rarely a black-and-white ordeal.

There are plenty of gray areas and, unfortunately, those gray areas are very important. But if you’re using a simple form or a one-size-fits-all instructional article, chances are you have no idea what you’re missing.

You Might Not Be Correct

Other times you may know what you’re talking about, but that doesn’t mean you’re correct. While it’s impressive that you might understand a certain area of your estate well enough to grasp its legal aspects, you’ll pay dearly if you’re mistaken.

Laws change, for example, and while a professional estate planner keeps up on these changes, it’s unlikely you do. Even a small oversight could cause huge problems for your loved ones later on.

No Oversight

No one’s perfect. Everyone makes mistakes.

However, one area where you do not want to make mistakes is in your estate planning.

Doing so can result in something as serious as disinheriting a child. But software and online tutorials have no way of knowing what your intentions are. They can’t look over your document and confirm something is correct or accurately reflecting your intentions.

This is why a professional estate planner is so important. They won’t ask you simple yes-or-no questions in order to put together your estate. Professionals will not only ask you the necessary questions, they’ll be able to use their experience to ask the important follow-ups. Lastly, they can provide that crucial review before making your estate official.

The Devil’s in the Details

Perhaps your estate is a simple one.

Or maybe you did all the necessary research to compile it correctly.

Even if you’ve handled the actual planning process perfectly, your hard work could all be for nothing if you make a mistake with its filing, for example. Professional estate planners know all the nuances that go with making your estate official. We deal with them on a regular basis.

You, on the other hand, do not. As such you could easily leave your estate to chance due to one simple error.

No one likes paying for professional help if they can avoid it, especially when they feel as though the service is something they could handle on their own. While the Internet has successfully made a lot of professional services accessible to the layman, there are still many areas where it simply isn’t worth the risk.

Estate planning is definitely one of these services. You can pay for professional estate planning now or you can risk your family members paying dearly after you’re gone.

Find Out More

If you would like to find out more about how professionals approach estate planning, contact one of our attorney today for a consultation.

You can also watch this video from Northwestern Mutual which goes into details on a few specific examples of where DIY estate planning has gone wrong:

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