Estate planning involves the execution of legally binding documents. There are websites on the Internet that sell generic template legal documents, including estate planning devices. They contend that you can plan your estate simply and easily using downloads or worksheets that they sell to their visitors.
Is do-it-yourself estate planning truly effective? This is a question that was asked by the highly respected magazine Consumer Reports in 2012.
Three legal professors were engaged by the magazine to examine last wills that were created using worksheets obtained from three different websites that sell legal documents. The professors said that unintended consequences could result if you use these online tools. They specifically mentioned the possibility of conflicting clauses.
Ultimately, Consumer Reports could not recommend DIY estate planning solutions.
During the study that was conducted by Consumer Reports, last wills were constructed and examined by the experts. The proper execution of a given document is one thing to consider, but what about the choice of document or documents?
Are you sure that you should use a last will to facilitate future asset transfers to your loved ones? If you use a will, the will must be admitted to probate.
Probate is a legal process that comes with certain drawbacks. It is a public proceeding, so anyone who was interested could find out how you distributed your assets. There are often considerable expenses that can accumulate during probate, and it is a time-consuming process. The heirs do not receive their inheritances until after the estate has been probated.
There are other devices that can be used to arrange for asset transfers outside of probate. A revocable living trust can be an effective choice for many people.
Are you comfortable creating a revocable living trust using a generic document that you purchased online?
There are other things to take into consideration. Would you like to protect assets from legal judgments? Do you have estate tax concerns? Would you like to protect a loved one from his or her own poor money handling ability? Do you have someone with special needs on your inheritance list? Do you want to pass along assets that have appreciated considerably?
All of these different circumstances can be appropriately addressed through the execution of the correct documents. The average layperson is not going to be aware of all of the legal devices that can be utilized.
When you plan your estate you are passing along everything that you have earned to the people that you love the most. This is a rather profound endeavor. Do-it-yourself projects can be rewarding, but you have to know where to draw the line.
Free Report on DIY Estate Planning
If you would like to learn more about DIY estate planning, download our in-depth special report. The report is being offered free of charge, and you can get your copy through this link: DIY Estate Planning Report.