Do(n’t)-It-Yourself – The Case Against DIY Estate Planning
The advent of Pinterest and shows like Home Improvement has given the term “Do-it-Yourself” a plenteous boost. The popularity is trendy to the point of making several YouTubers and social media persons millionaires.
How? They just have to be consistent with various DIY niches in fun, quirky short videos and that’s that. Names like 5-Minute Crafts, Troom Troom, and LauraDIY are quite well-known in these communities.
While the term is suitable for small projects, things start going haywire when you try to do what professionals do. If you try being an electrician, plumber or excavator, the likelihood of disastrous consequences is quite high.
It’s the same with DIY estate planning. This is an area of expertise that can’t really be figured out with a few trips to Home Depot or Pinterest. There is no denying that the prospect of bargain estate planning you can sort out yourself is attractive.
However, these services only offer cookie-cutter forms. For a good majority of people, these forms don’t really account for their individual situations. There is a lot of diversity in people’s finances, assets, family situations, and how they want to distribute their estate. Also, the generic documents may not comply with the state’s legal requirements.
Taking up the challenge of creating one of the most important documents of your life has its own perils. You can end up creating much more of a mess and still end up going to an estate planning lawyer in Long Island.
What can go wrong?
Here is a glimpse:
Confusion with legal jargon
For the layman, legal jargon can be very confusing. There is a lot of ambiguity with certain terms as their meanings change with circumstances. If you don’t have an in-depth understanding of these terms, you can end up with an estate plan where your beneficiaries lose their inheritance.
Whatever your personal thoughts on lawyers are, the fact is that they know the law. Estate planning lawyers undergo a lot of training and practice after years of law school. It’s safe to say that they have a solid knowledge of legal terms.
Challenges with taxation
Regardless of whether it is tax season or not, you can always find estate owners complaining about the taxes. With a fluctuating economy, taxation can be uncertain. As a result, a lot of confusion permeates the process of estate planning in Long Island.
A lawyer with expertise in estate planning will be able to navigate their way through taxation changes and prevent you from too many taxes.
Deficiencies and Blank Spaces
Again, we can attest this to the lack of knowledge and professional insights into the world of estate planning. DIY-ing your way through your estate plan may end up with some blank spaces that will end up hurting your beneficiaries.
For instance, you may have not indicated the ultimate beneficiary for a property. When the time comes, this could result in someone unethically writing their name or the court may name a close relative to inherit.
Similarly, not being aware of the due legal process involved in estate planning may hurt your intentions. Missing attachments, signatures, etc., can void the document.
With an estate planning attorney in Long Island, you won’t have to worry about these factors. They are well-versed in the legal system surrounding estate planning, making sure there are no loopholes or procedural deficiencies.
Document Revocation and Lack of Third-Party Influence
Objectivity in estate planning is necessary. Considering it is a long, emotional, and difficult process, doing it yourself can sometimes cloud your judgment. You may come under influence or coercion to favor a spouse, child or relative over others.
There is also a chance that your will may go into probate with your family disputing over the details. Fights may occur with your children citing emotionally-driven justifications. An estate planning attorney will act as a third-party and prevent hearsay and coercive behavior.
Lastly, a DIY will has a higher chance of being revoked in court. The main reason for this is a possible situation where the will is still with you when you die. Since there is nobody to produce the will, the court may assume it doesn’t exist.
A lawyer can also act as a custodian of the original copy of the estate plan, preventing the chances of it being revoked.
Avoid the worst case estate planning scenario
With so many factors going against it, it doesn’t bode well for DIY estate planning. Without the proper knowledge of procedures, laws, regulations, and requirements, you will only create more of a mess for your loved ones to clear up.
Yes, you may save some money doing your estate planning yourself, but is it truly worth the mistakes and problems associated with it? Especially when there is a high chance your family and loved ones end up paying way more than what you saved in legal fees.
Having an estate planning attorney is pivotal for making well-informed decisions that result in a solid estate plan. It is the only way to ensure all procedural formalities are met with proper protocol.
The popular and apparent decision is working with a qualified and experienced estate planning lawyer in Long Island, the choice is up to you. With a lawyer, you have better chances of accomplishing your goals and proper execution. On the other hand, with DIY estate planning in Long Island, you’ll be leaving things to chance.
With the safety and well-being of your family and loved ones in question, is this a risk you really want to take?