Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
By John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.
Founding Attorney

Have you been tempted by ads proclaiming the ease and low expense of DIY estate planning? There seem to be more and more websites popping up where you can purchase estate planning documents to fill out yourself. Maybe this has appealed to you because estate planning has been on your to-do list forever and you have not yet gotten around to it. Perhaps you are thinking that you may use these DIY forms as a placeholder until you get around to meeting with an estate planning attorney. You may even think that this is an inexpensive option to accomplish something important you have been meaning to do. The potential pitfalls of DIY estate planning, however, can cost you much more in the long run. Here, we will detail some of the pitfalls of DIY estate planning that you should be wary of falling victim to.

Beware the Pitfalls of DIY Estate Planning

If you are considering DIY estate planning as a temporary placeholder until you can get around to putting a solid estate plan in place through a dedicated estate plan, there is a real danger in giving yourself a false sense of security. You may think your DIY estate planning buys you more time until you can make it to an actual attorney. Whatever motivation you had to set up a meeting with an estate planning attorney can dwindle even further. Do not fall victim to this false sense of security. Put meeting with a trusted estate planning attorney at the top of your to-do list and make it the priority it deserves to be.

A central problem with DIY estate plans is that these services seem to offer a one-size-fits-all approach to something that is far from one-size-fits-all. Estate planning is nuanced by state law and personal circumstances. The fact that these services allege to have forms that can meet the needs of so many different people is suspect at best. There are state-specific laws regarding the proper execution of estate planning documents, such as wills. Failure to comply with such laws means that you risk such documents being declared void. There are also state-specific laws about details included in things such as wills. Did you know that there may be limits in place regarding things such as who you can select to be the personal representative of your estate? Should you choose a person who is not qualified to take on such a role, then your choice will be rendered invalid.

There is also the often overlooked aspect of estate planning that makes it something that cannot you set and forget. As lives evolve and move forward, estate plans will likely need to be changed and updated. There will be births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. There will be changes in the law. These are all things that can merit revisiting your estate plan. When you DIY estate plan, you do not have that estate planning attorney you worked with in developing your estate plan to revisit and check-in with regarding updating your plans.

Furthermore, DIY estate planning services fail to take into account the personal factor that is inherent in estate planning. They will not offer you guidance on managing family dynamics as you create your estate plan. There will be no counseling regarding how to protect your wishes and help ensure your goals for you and your loved ones are accomplished. You will only have a form with blanks to be filled.

Estate Planning Attorneys

Estate planning is too important to leave it to a DIY service. Get legal counsel you can trust with such a vital task. At Merlino & Gonzalez we know that there is no effective one-size-fits-all approach to an estate plan and that is why we create comprehensive estate plans tailored to the specific needs of each client. Contact us today.

About the Author
John is a fierce advocate and the office guru for problem-solving and brainstorming. He guides clients through every stage of a real estate transaction from offer to contract, navigating through nerve-shattering home inspection and title clearance concerns, maintaining constant contact with lenders, conducting the actual closing, and continuing to advise clients with regard to any post-closing concerns.  John brings a practical and fair-minded approach to the process which has earned him the respect of his clients and peers.