Is DIY Estate Planning A Good Idea?

Many people don’t have an estate plan in place. They may be young or believe they don’t have enough assets. Others recognize the need for one but try to do it all on their own. While we understand the impulse to avoid hiring an attorney, the benefits generally far outweigh the drawbacks and risks of DIY estate planning.

Risk #1: Invalid Documents

Whether it’s a will or trust or both, you must follow many rules and requirements for them to be considered valid.

If the documents you drafted aren’t clear enough, can’t be authenticated, or try to distribute assets in a way the law does not allow, they may be declared invalid by the probate court. In that case, the court will likely distribute your property according to the laws of intestacy (the state’s default rules of inheritance).

It’ll create two significant problems. First, your estate may not go to those to whom you wanted it to go. Some people may be overlooked, while others may receive more than you wanted. Second, it can make life difficult for those you’ve left behind. When someone contests a will in probate court, the process can be long, expensive, and emotionally exhausting.

A clear and professionally prepared estate plan, on the other hand, is much more likely to be executed smoothly and according to your wishes.

Risk #2: Higher Taxes

One of the most important considerations for an estate plan is the impact it’ll have on taxes. And that’s whether it’s your taxes, the taxes on your estate, or the taxes your heirs must pay.

There are various ways to reduce the overall tax burden and control when you must pay the tax. It can be complicated, and we advise you to leave it to the professionals.

Risk #3: Missed Opportunities

With a DIY estate plan, one big drawback is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Many tools will help you accomplish specific goals and prepare for a wide variety of contingencies. But unless you’re familiar with the ins and outs of estate law, you’re likely to take a few missteps.

Rather than trying to figure everything out on your own, a consultation with an attorney is crucial to make sure nothing gets missed.

Southern California Estate-Planning Experts

You’ll spend your whole life building up your estate. Determining what happens to it after you’re gone is one of the most important decisions you will make.

Trying to go it alone is likely to be frustrating and time-consuming. But more importantly, it may have unintended consequences for those you leave behind.

A quick consultation with our expert attorneys can help you create an estate plan that works and is right for you. Contact our office today.

Written By

Hoffman & Forde, Attorneys at Law