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3 reasons to rethink a DIY estate plan

The “do-it-yourself” (DIY) movement has exploded in recent years. The internet is full of instructional videos explaining everything from inflating a bike tire to tackling major home improvement projects. Indeed, you feel a sense of accomplishment when doing something on your own. However, there’s a significant gap between stitching a hole in your jeans and replacing the plumbing in your house. In one case, the worst that can happen is you’ll have to buy a new pair of jeans. In the other case, you could very well have to buy a new house.

The same idea applies to legal work. After all, an estate plan just consists of a series of documents. Do you really need to pay a lawyer to fill out forms that you can easily find on the internet? It’s important to understand that a comprehensive estate plan involves more than merely filling in the blanks. Here are three reasons why you will want to rethink doing your estate plan on your own.

1. They are called canned forms for a reason

Okay, a “canned” form doesn’t literally come in a can, but the idea is the same. If you buy a certain kind of canned soup, you expect that it will taste the same every time. A canned form is simply a pre-printed form that is set up the same for everyone, save for the blanks where you’ll put names and addresses.

This means your neighbors down the street, your co-workers, and your friends from two states over all have access to the same forms. You’d probably agree that your situation is much different than that of all these other people. How can a canned form possibly account for the nuances of your situation? The answer is it can’t.

There are numerous problems with online wills and other estate planning documents. These forms can be useful for providing you with a framework of what you might like your estate plan to resemble. However, it takes a legal professional to tailor that plan into something that will suit your needs and desires.

2. Short-term savings can turn into a long-term expense

There’s no other way to put it: canned forms are less expensive than going to an attorney. However, errors are common in these types of documents, and they are unlikely to address the things that are most important to you. If a mistake is made, you’re going to have to see an attorney to make corrections anyways. If an error isn’t spotted until after you’re gone, your family members could be facing a long legal nightmare. While the initial cost of working with an attorney can seem significant, it can save you and your loved ones a great deal of expense and stress further down the line.

3. An estate plan should consist of more than a simple will

An estate plan should involve more than determining who gets what. An attorney can help address considerations you may not have thought of, such as long-term care planning or planning for a child with special needs. Maybe you’ve remarried and will want to update an old estate plan. A lawyer can help address all of these situations and more, providing you with the tools you need to craft a robust estate plan.

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