Many industries have opened the door to do-it-yourself or DIY methods, from home improvement to tax return preparation. The legal profession is no exception, estate planning services in particular, but many people wonder if a DIY approach to crafting complex documents is safe.
While it’s true that you can use online services to create a Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will and other documents, there are compelling reasons why this approach may not be in your (or your family’s) best interests.
Word choices make a difference
There is a precise language that must be used in the creation of estate planning documents. You may communicate what you want or what you prefer to happen to your estate, but if it is not stated correctly, it may have little purchase in the legal arena. The difference between common word choices and words that effectively communicate testamentary intention may seem slight, but they can make all the difference when it counts.
Updating your plan
Another reason to avoid DIY estate planning is that you may need to update your plan someday. A divorce, a death in the family or a sudden change in financial circumstances all could render your existing plan inadequate. Will your DIY service allow you to make changes? Will these changes be legally enforceable? A knowledgeable estate planning attorney knows the steps to take to update a will and other estate planning documents. Your attorney can also help you identify advantageous revisions you may not have thought of.
Opening the door to conflict
If your wishes are not communicated in a legally binding manner, your loved ones could face significant confusion and disappointment when it comes time to administer your estate. In some cases, the situation can even rise to the level of conflict. You can avoid all of these problems by having an experienced estate planning attorney draft your documents. For those seeking the peace of mind that comes with estate planning, this is a relatively small investment well worth the price.