Lawyers want to know how to discourage clients from using books or software and websites that spew out documents for free or for a fraction of what they charge. Meantime, consumers ask, “What’s wrong with that?”
In today’s times of “Recessionistas” and “repurposing”, there are many people out there trying their hand at DIY projects to save some dough. Some have even dappled in DIY estate plans. Is this new self-made practice a good idea when it comes to your assets and loved ones?
Forbes addressed this matter last month in an article titled “What Could Happen If You Write Your Own Living Trust?” As the title suggests, estate planning is not a DIY project to take lightly and the article recounts several “horror” stories of layman-driven estate planning gone awry. I recommend reading the article, if this is a project you are considering.
Admittedly, whenever an estate planning attorney sounds the alarm against DIY estate planning, he or she runs the real risk of coming across as self-serving. I get that. Nevertheless, your estate plan is not your deck. No, your estate plan is the legally binding roadmap to protect everyone you love and everything you have when you cannot. Period.
If you botch the deck project, there usually is a fix. In a worst case scenario, you re-sand and re-stain (perhaps with a darker stain). If you botch your estate plan, on the other hand, your minor children may not be reared by the guardians (backup parents) of your choosing, may squander or lose their inheritance, and your spouse’s next spouse may take it all anyway. The list goes on.
Additionally, if you botch the estate plan, to whom will your loved ones turn for relief when you are gone? Unless you carry “errors and omissions” insurance, no one.
I’m all for DIY projects to save a dollar here and there, but when it comes to your estate plan, is it really worth the risk?
Reference: Forbes (August 16, 2012) “What Could Happen If You Write Your Own Living Trust?”