The Pitfalls of DIY Estate Planning


It is understandable for many people to attempt to go the “DIY” route when they are conducting estate planning. Estates are very useful ways for individuals to leave behind properties and other assets for their spouse, children or other loved ones. In the past, estate planning was always conducted with the help of a professional attorney, who dealt with such matters on a daily basis. However, the popularity of the internet means many people are able to go online and find a wealth of information about estate planning, which they can use to try and plan their estate independently.


Avoiding Errors
While it is a good thing for individuals and families to want to learn as much as they can about estate planning before they set up their estate, it is not such a good idea to complete the planning without the help of an experienced estate lawyer. When you have spent many decades working hard and investing intelligently to accumulate your wealth, and you are looking to set up the estate so you can leave behind some of the assets for your beneficiaries, it is very important to get everything right. The last thing you want is for a clerical error to cost you money, or to cause your loved ones any legal problems after you pass away.

When Planning and Execution Meet
DIY estate planning is a very noble idea, because it implies that you want to take responsibility for the estate and finish off all the planning yourself. But it is not the most practical solution, because you are probably not an expert on estates and how they work – from a legal point of view. I can recount many cases over the past few months and years where new clients have come to me for assistance with their estate. But they do not always come during the planning stages. Instead, they come to me when they realize they made a mistake during the planning and execution phases of setting up their estate. And while I am able to help many of these people in correcting their mistakes, it can be an inconvenience for them and their progress, time consuming, and an extra expense.

There are also cases where people do not even notice they made a mistake with their estate planning, and the error is only spotted when a lawyer attempts to go through all the estate information after the individual who set up the estate passes away. You really do not want to put your loved ones in a situation like this, because correcting mistakes after you have passed away is much more problematic and time consuming for your beneficiaries – and sometimes cannot be corrected at all.

The Better Solution
The best solution is to contact an estate lawyer when you are still in the pre-planning stages of setting up an estate. There is a lot more to estate planning than leaving certain properties to particular family members in a will. If it were that easy, estate lawyers would not exist! The reason we work with clients daily is because we want to make sure each aspect of their estate planning is 100 percent correct and by the book.

There are plenty of mistakes you could end up making when you are attempting DIY estate planning. I have seen many of my clients make the mistake of thinking the legal documents they obtained and filled out through a website would qualify as a trust.

Other clients were acting on information they got from one or two sites, but they never verified the information to ensure its accuracy. Acting on information and the advice of bloggers is never a good idea, especially not for something as important as estate planning.

Taking an Active Role
If you want to play an active role in your estate’s planning, read up on how the process works.
The more you know about the process, the better you will be able to explain your wishes to an estate attorney. However, I strongly urge everyone to let the experts handle the legal aspect of estate planning. Talk with a lawyer about what you want and let them handle the paperwork. They will make sure everything is properly written, double-checked, notarized and filed. Proper planning right now will make things much easier for you and your loved ones down the road.

For more information, please feel free to contact me today for a consultation. Serving Loomis, Whitney, Rocklin California and surrounding areas.


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