America is a country full of people who like to take matters into their own hands. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. After all, that’s how innovation occurs. But when it comes to estate planning, a lot of people try to navigate the system on their own to save money. In many instances, these individuals think that they only need a simple estate plan anyway, so they turn to do-it-yourself books and the internet for guidance.
The dangers of DIY estate planning
But trying to create your own estate plan can be extraordinarily dangerous for your estate and your loved ones. Here are a few reasons why:
- State laws differ: Although the basics of estate planning may be uniform across the country, seeking to achieve the same goals, the state laws that apply to the process can vary greatly. Therefore, if you rely on templates found on the internet, then you could end up creating a document that has no legal validity. This means that your estate planning wishes won’t be adhered to.
- Intestate succession: If your self-created estate plan is found to be invalid, then your assets will be distributed in accordance with state law, known as intestate succession. This means that your assets may fall into the hands of people that you never intended to inherit, and you won’t be able to set the terms of inheritance like you could through competent estate planning.
- Lack of comprehensiveness: Even if you think that you only need a simple estate plan, there are probably intricacies that you’ll miss through the use of online and do-it-yourself resources. For example, if you neglect to create a legally valid power of attorney, then your health and financial decisions could be left in the hands of someone you don’t trust should you become incapacitated.
- Lack of options: One of the greatest advantages of estate planning is that you can custom tailor it to suit your wishes and the needs of your loved ones. If you want to motivate a loved one to graduate college or complete substance abuse treatment, you can do so through an incentive trust. If you want to dictate how assets should be distributed after your initial heir passes away, then you can do so through a remainder trust. The options are nearly limitless. But you’re likely to miss out on those options if you try to engage in estate planning on your own.
- Increased risk of familial infighting: If your estate plan is unclear, which is a possibility with DIY estate planning, then your family may end up squabbling over your assets. This can be costly to your estate and damaging to your family members’ relationships with one another. You can avoid this outcome, though, through holistic estate planning that clearly includes all of your assets and accurately portrays your intent.
Let a firm like ours take the burden of estate planning off your shoulders
We know that it’s tempting to try to save time and money by turning to the internet for DIY estate planning tips. But we’ve seen too many estate planning mistakes made in this regard, and the results can be devastating. That’s why we’re eager to help St. Louis-area residents address their estate planning and elder law needs. We take pride in our ability to truly listen to our clients’ needs and create the customized plans that suit their needs. So, if you’d like someone to help alleviate the burden of sound estate planning, then please research your representation options and choose a law firm that is right for you.