Personally, I believe in the adage: if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. While this idea is applicable to most things in life, it especially true when it comes to the law, legal documents, and writing your own Will. Specifically, when you consider the importance of have a well drafted estate plan in place: ensuring that your family is cared for when you pass away. Saving money by writing your own estate plan is both a waste of money and time. A do-it-yourself Will/estate plan will not achieve the results you desire. The money saved by not hiring a lawyer to prepare your documents today will equate to a much greater cost when you die, because your estate will likely need to pass via probate (which costs between $9,000 and $19,000 depending on the value of your assets), and can easily lead to family disharmony.
What’s Wrong With Writing Your Own Estate Plan?
Legally, you have the right to draft your own documents; however, that doesn’t mean you have the right to have them actually work. Do-it-yourselfers accidentally disinherit children, fail to protect assets from lawsuits, trigger probate, invite court interference, give assets outright to a drug addicted beneficiaries, and incur huge fees to straighten out a big mess.
Creating an effective set of estate planning documents involves many moving parts and deep analysis. An estate planning attorney will consider your family situation and financial status coupled with where you live and where you own real estate. Your goals and concerns are also carefully considered.
With a myriad of variables at play, how can a book of generic forms, computer program, or website possibly address all correctly? It simply can’t.
Even attorneys, who don’t focus on estate planning, are hesitant to write their own estate plans. Instead, they turn to their colleagues who understand both probate and trust laws, and are experienced in putting together estate plans that work.
Use Books and Software to Learn About Estate Planning, Not for Estate Planning
Estate planning books and software should only be used as tools to learn about the estate planning process. They should not be used a substitute for the hands-on, legal counseling from an experienced estate planning attorney.
While there are many tasks you can complete on your own, designing, drafting, and implementing an estate plan is not one of them.
What’s the Biggest Problem With Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning?
The biggest problem with do-it-yourself estate planning is that it often creates a huge burden for loved ones. It’s your loved ones who will find out you tried to save a few bucks and, as a result, caused a huge stressful mess that will cost thousands of dollars to fix.
If you are interested in ensuring that your family is cared for after you have passed away, please call our office at 415-625-0773 to schedule your free estate planning consultation with San Francisco’s premiere estate planning attorney, Matthew J. Tuller.