Using DIY wills for estate planning can have unintended negative consequences according to Marguerite Lorenz, a writer for marketwatch.com. She reports having recently seen a DIY service that had many typos on its website and that its estate planning “packages” had a document labeled with three different names. This service – like many other estate planning sites – has its own attorneys, but access to specific help for your personal documents is rarely available. If personal advice is offered, it then appears to cost a great deal to receive.
So which is better, DIY wills or an online professional? For people with complicated personal and financial lives, a do-it-yourself service might not fully address your complexities. If you do estate planning by yourself, you might never know the results of your work, but your loved ones will.
According to Lorenz, there are a lot of DIY options for completing your own estate plan, and they have been available almost as long as we have had the internet. With the ease and availability of these programs, you would think that more of us would have an up-to-date estate plan.
So, what is good estate planning all about? Lorenz says that good estate planning is all about the power to express our preferences. There are four basic estate planning documents: a will, a trust, power of attorney, and an advanced health care directive. If you decide to do any of these four through a DIY site, expect to be offered a fill-in-the-blank approach. Each state has its own probate code, which is the body of law governing estate planning and implementation.
Some DIY sites have all of these documents, but only if you purchase their higher-end packages. Some also offer limited attorney consultation – which on one site was just a drop down menu with pre-written responses.
Lorenz states that the advantage of using a DIY service is having a plan as quickly and cheaply as possible – which may be better than no plan at all in some circumstances.
However, she cautions against the use of DIY services because you may not know all that you need to know for estate planning. You might know some about how you want to dispose of your assets after you die, but you might not know all the case law and legislation that have evolved into your state’s probate code.
However you choose to get your plan completed, DIY or with the help of an experienced attorney, it is important to get your estate plan done as soon as possible.
Contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC, 708-482-7090 or firstname.lastname@example.org