“Do-It-Yourself” Estate Planning

The 4 Major Pitfalls of “Do It Yourself” Estate Planning

Most people know they need to set up an estate plan, but for a variety of reasons – they think they’re too young or think they simply don’t have enough assets to worry about – they decide to forgo this task. A rising number of people are opting for do-it-yourself tools, which provide a low-cost alternative to seeking legal advice and planning.

While it’s true that using websites or books is a fraction of the cost of seeking legal advice, there are many pitfalls. And some of them are very expensive in the long term. Here are four to consider before opting for DIY estate planning.

  1. Making mistakes is too easy

One of the largest challenges with DIY estate planning is how simple it is to make errors. Your situation may appear easy, but there can be factors that introduce additional complexity. For example, you may need to address the needs of a child from a previous marriage, or plan for a child with special needs.

Plus, if your estate is large enough to owe estate taxes, you may need more advanced strategies to ensure that the maximum amount of wealth is passed to your loved ones.

  1. Legal advice is missing

Fill-in-the-blank forms can get you started. But filling out these DIY forms isn’t a substitute for legal advice. In fact, most online tools and written resources include that disclosure. But do you really need legal advice?

For most people, the answer is yes, because each situation is different (which is why a one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t work). Estate planning needs to be tailored to your unique situation and factors that surround your estate so you don’t make errors or miss critical details.

  1. Failure to address important details

Self-prepared documents can be riddled with errors. For example, the documents may fail to prepare for contingencies, such as your children predeceasing you, divorce or the birth of new children.

An estate planning expert can plan for these potential circumstances, so you don’t leave anything to chance.

  1. Laws change, constantly

Case law, legislation and other factors are constantly changing, which can affect your estate planning. DIY tools and books can quickly become outdated, and oftentimes it’s difficult to know whether the documents that you’re using are still current.

An estate planning expert is up to date on changing laws and can help you revise your plan often (annually in most cases).

Do you need help with estate planning? Most people do. Our law firm is here to help you! We handle all the complex aspects of estate planning, making the process simple for you and your family. Our comprehensive approach ensures that no important details are overlooked. For more information, call us today at 914-437-5955.

About Author

  • Email: mlamagna@hhrls.com
  • Michael LaMagna, LNHA, MPA, JD concentrates in the areas of Medicaid and Advanced Asset Protection Planning, Elder Law, Trusts and Estates, Probate and Probate Litigation, Guardianships, Health Care Regulatory Matters, Nursing Home Placement, Long Term Care Insurance, Medicare Appeals, Social Security/SSI Litigation and Special Needs Law. If you have a question for Mr. LaMagna, please call him at (914) 437-5955.