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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Do-it-yourself estate planning can lead to serious issues

When "do-it-yourself" is an option, it can be hard to resist the temptation of bypassing outside assistance. While this method can indeed be great for some tasks, it can also pose an issue when applied to more complex situations. In the age of quick and easy do-it-yourself estate planning, details can get lost in the shuffle, causing expensive problems down the road.

Filling out online forms can create a false sense of security because, quite simply, they don't make apparent all of the nuance and rules that go along with setting up a will. When presented with an online form, filling in the blanks may make it seem like all of the bases are covered, but each state has its own regulations that must be followed for the will to be a formal document in the long run. Misinterpreted addendums, an improper number of witnesses and more can cause estate strife should those involved disagree with the exact meaning of the will.

That's not to say that do-it-yourself estate planning is never an option. Those with very simple possessions can possible use this option. However, with more complexity comes more opportunity to have words misinterpreted. Something as simple as the word "child" can radically change the meaning of your will if certain unforeseen circumstances are involved. To be certain that all is well in order with the estate, seeking the assistance of a qualified attorney is often recommended.

Do-it-yourself estate planning can lead to a certain level of comfort and, for some, can be a viable option. However, there is no true substitute for face-to-face communication when dealing with something as complex and important as setting up an estate. With proper guidance, one can be much more certain that their wishes will be fulfilled to your family members after they are gone.

Source: Fox Business, "Do-It-Yourself Wills: Cheap Now, Expensive Later?," Gail Buckner, May 5, 2014

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