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DIY will vs. lawyer: Which will save you money?

As you help your parents with their estate plans, you are probably using the internet as your primary source of information. You will also find plenty of free or low-cost legal forms you can fill out, such as wills and advance health directives.

Going that route may seem to save you money, but in the long run, it often leads to unexpected expenses and fees. Choosing an estate planning attorney to assist you may cost more up front but can save you money down the road.

DIY forms are generic

Online DIY forms are often simple and generic to make them easy to understand and fill out. However, they usually only work if you have simple and generic assets. At your parents’ age, they have many complex assets, such as retirement accounts, residential properties and investments. These require a tailored plan that addresses your parents’ specific circumstances, accounts for contingencies and complies with complicated state laws. Such a plan will prevent delays, fees and legal expenses.

The internet does not have all the answers

Because your parents' situation is unique, you cannot find all the answers through online searches concerning what is best for them. Friends may offer advice, but the information may be incorrect or not applicable to your parents. A local lawyer, however, can get to know their needs and ensure that their estate plans are thorough and relevant so there are no arguments due to ambiguity or exclusion.

Lawyers know the law

An estate planning attorney has knowledge and experience in how to create a legally sound will (or other document) and update it as laws or circumstances change. This decreases the chances of anyone contesting your parents’ wishes, which not only saves your family money but also drama. The ability to avoid conflict, mistakes, delays and extra costs is worth every penny of hiring legal representation for establishing your parents’ estate plans.

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