When you make the decision to put together a last will and testament, you face two major options: work with an estate planning attorney, or turn to a do-it-yourself (DIY) estate planning tool, which you can easily locate online. While the DIY kit may appear more attractive on the surface—you can complete it on your own time, it’s cheaper, etc.—there are a few details to think about before completely tossing out the idea of working with an estate planning lawyer. Depending on the specificity or complexity of your needs, you may find that DIY estate planning tools are too broad and vague to adequately serve you or sufficiently protect your assets or beneficiaries. Let’s take a closer look at some of the drawbacks of DIY estate planning kits so that you can make a more informed decision.
Assessing Your Knowledge About Estate Planning
While legal or financial professionals may feel at ease using online tools to create a will or other estate planning document, someone who has little to no understanding of the estate planning world would likely benefit from working with an experienced legal professional. The forms online are often vague and do not explain in detail many of the aspects of the estate planning process, so you may find yourself unknowingly leaving assets unprotected or overlooking major issues. Similarly, if you aren’t familiar with some of the terminology, it may be challenging to complete the online documents with confidence. The components of a will and other estate planning documents involve major decisions, so you should seriously consider working with an estate planning attorney to make sure that you are making fully informed decisions with confidence.
Considering the Big Picture
When you work with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can trust that you’ll have all the information you need to make your decisions. Completing the process online can be more challenging, especially if you are concerned about researching each option fully. You’ll likely have to do a series of searches and consult a variety of sources before you complete each step, as the information included in DIY kits is typically limited. A legal or financial professional, however, understands the tax considerations involved in estate planning, so they can help you take advantage of strategies to avoid probate or minimize other tax penalties. If you want to be as thorough as possible and make sure you understand all the implications of your decisions, it’s best to look to a professional for their guidance.
Avoiding Potential Legal Battles
Unfortunately, those who complete their own online forms without consulting a professional can find themselves or their estates embroiled in costly legal battles down the line. While DIY wills are intended to be just as legally binding as those created with the assistance of an attorney, DIY wills tend to be challenged in court more frequently. Their overly-vague language and lack of specificity makes it easier for others to question their validity. When an attorney is involved, there is automatically another third-party who can help to explain the client’s reasoning behind the decisions expressed in the will. If you are still fairly set on using a DIY kit to create your will or other estate planning document, it’s recommended that you at least meet with an attorney briefly to discuss your decisions. The decisions you make carry weight, so you want to make sure you are setting yourself, your beneficiaries, and your legacy up for success.
For more information about creating wills or other estate planning documents, reach out to the dedicated attorneys at Legacy Law Group today by calling (509) 315-8087.