The Pitfalls of DIY Estate Plans

Long Island Estate Planning Lawyers - Lamkin Elder Law

The age of the Internet is upon us, and that means more sites educating consumers and even offering cheaper DIY alternatives to professional services. One of these popular DIY sites offers estate planning where you can find all of the forms you need, along with information and tutorials. While it may seem like an ideal option, at closer examination you may find that you truly get what you pay for.

Online services offer contract templates and use boilerplate language that claims to offer you maximum protection, but you are also required to create your own terms and other provisions tailored to the unique estate situation you have. Because these online sites are so simplified, they often create more harm to an estate than good.

Common Issues with DIY Wills

DIY kits claim to offer attorney-level advice and guides for drafting an official will; however, it is up to the customer to take the time to read all of the documentation. Also, these guides do not encompass every circumstance and are often too general in their scope. Most importantly, they use generalized laws instead of addressing specific state laws.

If you are thinking about using a cheaper alternative, like a DIY site, here are some pitfalls you may want to be aware of first:

  1. No Residuary Clause – A template lets you name beneficiaries and bequeath assets, but it rarely allows you to indicate how that property will remain after all estate taxes, debts and other expenses are paid. These online templates lack the residuary clause to ensure property passes according to the laws of intestacy. This means that certain assets may go to an individual you never intended.
  2. Fill in the Blank Errors – Another common pitfall with DIY estate plans is that the consumer must fill in the blanks. That means you are required to name your executor and add in beneficiaries, guardians and other provisions. It is easy to misunderstand each provision and accidentally fill in the wrong role with someone you did not intend, such as accidentally listing a beneficiary as your executor.
  3. A Clear Lack of Execution – When it comes to witnessing a will, you are required to have the will notarized and a witness present during the signing. This is easily overlooked on a DIY will and in some cases, you are not even prompted to have it notarized. Also, the sites rarely update with the latest probate laws; therefore, you may have a will that violates those laws.
  4. Not Creating a Trust – While a will is a valuable tool, a trust is also something that most individuals will want to create when they make an estate plan. Unfortunately, DIY sites will not advise individuals about creating a trust or even follow the state laws for drafting one.
  5. Special Needs – DIY kits lack the complexity to handle children, especially those with special needs. They may jeopardize your child’s eligibility for public benefits and assets may be passed incorrectly, leaving your child with nothing.

Don’t Risk Your Estate – Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. Today

DIY estate plans do cost less, but they cost you more in the end. Having an estate plan drafted to meet the specific circumstances of your estate is the only way to protect your assets and your loved ones. Let the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. help you with your personalized estate plan. Schedule a free consultation online or call 516-605-0625 now.

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