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3 pitfalls of do-it-yourself estate planning

The internet is full of videos telling people how to do things on their own. While these videos can be useful for understanding the most effective way to paint your living room or providing you with a visual guide for determining where the mystery screw belongs in a ready-to-assemble bookshelf, some things should be left to the professionals.

You’d probably be ill-advised to attempt complicated plumbing or electrical repairs. It would also be unwise to try a do-it-yourself estate plan for the following reasons:

1. One size does not fit all

There’s simply no way a “canned” form found online or purchased from a company can account for the nuances of your situation. An estate plan should be as unique as you are. You might be surprised at the number of options available for creating a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your wishes.

2. Is the cost really worth it?

There’s no way around it. The cost of paying for a pre-printed form or attempting to do an estate plan on your own is cheaper than hiring an attorney. However, what happens if there are errors? The cost of correcting a mistake can significantly outweigh whatever savings you may have initially had. If a mistake isn’t caught until after you’re gone, your heirs may be left with a nasty legal dispute to settle. A lawyer can help ensure your plan is free from errors at the beginning.

3. Estate planning involves more than documents

Sure, estate planning involves the creation of documents, but merely listing your assets or your heirs may fail to account for the whole picture. An attorney can help with more complex considerations, such as whether you have a child with a disability, whether you’ve remarried, and whether you own property out-of-state. Filling in the blanks on a pre-printed form will not account for these significant complexities.

You get what you pay for

Tempting though it may be, estate planning is not an area where you want to cut corners. Working at the outset with a skilled professional can help you avoid costly errors and provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your wishes will be honored.