You may have considered taking a DIY approach to estate planning. DIY allows you to pinch pennies on many things, but estate planning should not be one of them. Estate planning is one of the most important decisions you can make regarding the future of your estate and your loved ones, and it should not be taken lightly. There are numerous articles online that discuss DIY estate planning. Still, many of them fail to mention the pitfalls one may encounter when establishing an estate plan without the assistance of an experienced attorney.
While a DIY approach may sound like a money-saving idea, it can quickly cost you and your estate a fortune should your estate become contested or go through expensive litigation. This article will discuss the dangers of DIY estate planning and why it is in your best interest to consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure your estate is handled according to your wishes.
Significant Pitfalls of DIY Estate Planning
DIY estate planning has multiple potential pitfalls that range from tax issues to legal complications and the potential for lawsuits. Many DIY estate plans are challenged in court due to improper formalities. Here are some of the more common issues people have with DIY estate planning:
Estate planning involves multiple areas of law that one must be knowledgeable about to avoid making irreversible mistakes. Complex legal issues can arise, and you must understand each of them because the court will follow the law, even if you make an honest mistake. Estate planning laws vary greatly depending on the jurisdiction and are subject to change. Relying on websites to keep current information regarding estate planning laws is dangerous and could lead you down the wrong path. Making mistakes while establishing your estate plan is easy, especially when dealing with complex laws that are unfamiliar to you. Even those with the best intentions can make honest mistakes, leading to family disputes, challenges to your estate, and expensive litigation that requires extensive court time. These legal issues can end up dwindling your estate.
The biggest issue of DIY estate planning is incorrect documentation. Each state has different laws regarding estates, and it’s important to follow the proper guidelines. Even honest mistakes on a document such as your will could cause the courts to rule that it is invalid and your estate is intestate. This means that the individuals you wanted to receive your property may be unable to do so. Many people mistakenly use online will templates and software to save a few dollars, but these often create significant issues down the road, especially if they are contested. Many online resources for estate planning are simply too generic to accomplish your goals, and they can easily be held invalid or cause family disputes. This is why speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney is important to ensure your wishes are honored when you die.
Dated or Incorrect Information
Another issue that many people find with DIY estate plans is that their documents do not reflect their most current information. Life changes quickly, and you must be proactive and review your estate plan often. DIY estate plans are known for being outdated fast and may not include your most recent life changes. A common problem with DIY estate plans is outdated beneficiary designations. The people in your life can change at any moment, and it may be difficult to remember to change the beneficiary designations on your accounts. For example, if you have a falling out with one of your beneficiaries and do not remove them from your accounts before you die, they will still be able to receive your property even though you did not want them to.
Neglecting Tax Laws
Most people are not familiar with tax laws. It’s easy to make tax mistakes, so you should speak with a professional. An experienced estate planning attorney should have a wealth of knowledge regarding tax laws in your state. They will be able to develop a plan that will minimize your tax exposure as much as possible.
How an Attorney Can Help
Attempting to do your estate planning alone can end with irreversible mistakes, and your property could be transferred to people you do not want. An attorney can draft the correct documents for you and ensure the process is handled correctly.
Progeny Law Firm assists clients with estate planning in Baton Rouge, LA. Call (225) 465-1090 or contact us online for a free consultation.
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