Don’t Fit Your Life to a Form, Find the Plan that Fits Your Life

Has extra time at home convinced you that the time is right to complete a few home improvement projects such as planting a garden or planning your estate? Good for you! While “do it yourself” (DIY) is popular for new life skills like gardening, I advise caution when it comes to estate planning.

 

When searching “do it yourself estate planning,” you’ll find online legal document services like Legal Zoom®, Nolo and Willandtrust.com eager to charge your credit card and send you their templates. These services’ healthcare directives, wills and trust forms may seem like a bargain until you start to fill them out.

 

That’s when you’ll realize: maybe, your life doesn’t fit neatly into the forms you just paid for. You’ll next need to decide. Should you change your life to fit the forms you just downloaded? Or should you make plans that fit your life?

 

Clients who started with DIY estate planning services tell me that they thought online forms are better than nothing. But over my years of helping plan and probate estates, I’ve found that using downloaded legal documents actually creates more problems than having no plans at all.

 

Why?

 

Depth of knowledge and understanding of the legal process helps avoid critical mistakes when putting together an estate plan. A one size fits all plan doesn’t work because estate planning requires a lot more than filling in the blanks and signing a few legal forms. Just how you rely on a cardiologist, not WebMD, to help keep your heart healthy, making plans about how loved ones care for you when you’re no longer able simply takes a professional. As an estate planning attorney, I:

 

  1. Ensure that your plan fits within the state’s laws that govern your estate. Many DIY forms do not adhere to individual state laws.

 

  1. Counsel you on properly building all your estate planning documents. Many people think a will is all that's needed, but in this age of modern medicine, many families need healthcare directives, living wills and durable power of attorneys.
     
  2. Help foresee future conflicts or diminish unanticipated conflicts. Handling these matters with the right planning can – instead of tearing apart – actually bring families closer together.
     
  3. Properly execute valid wills when the times comes. Some DIY wills turn out not to be valid due to not properly following procedures with crucial details such as signatures.

In my experience, too often, DIY estate planning results in problems that aren’t discovered until after the client is incapacitated and no longer able to fix mistakes. These mistakes won’t be found until after you’re incapacitated or deceased and no longer able to fix the mistakes, and your loved ones will be forced to deal with unnecessary heartbreak and additional legal costs.

 

All in all my advice is this: DYI your home, find an esquire to help plan your estate. My goal in working with my clients is to discover and deeply understand your personal goals and objectives, tailor advice to meet your needs and help plan your legal life to accommodate for the unforeseen challenges of the future.

 

If you’re ready to get your estate in proper order for your loved ones, have a will, or trust, or other estate documents that need updating, or have DYI documents that you’ve not consulted an attorney about, then reach out to me. It will be my pleasure to help with your life improvement project and to help you have peace of mind knowing you have properly planned for your loved ones.

 

 

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