With so many tools available online today, it can be tempting to create an estate plan on your own. While you might think you will save a lot of money and hassle with a DIY approach, it can come back to bite you or your heirs. The truth is, bypassing an attorney to get your estate planning documents can result in a plan that does not work or follow the proper laws.
Due to varying laws in each state and the unique needs of each person, DIY kits do not accomplish what you need. Here are the main reasons you should avoid using online tools to create a will or trust.
1. No personalization
DIY estate planning tools take a one-size-fits-all approach to a complex process. Estates are never generic. Your estate and the needs of your beneficiaries are unique. If you try to do it all on your own, you might miss out on the opportunities to protect your assets, transfer property to the right people or help your beneficiaries avoid probate.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons, at the very least, you should get your documents reviewed by an estate planning attorney.
2. Laws differ
Many estate planning toolkits are not specific to a particular state. New York has unique probate laws and estate taxes that a generic document is not likely to address. State laws also change regularly, and you have no way of knowing whether an online form is up to date.
3. No legal advice
All you get from a DIY source is a form to fill out, without any legal advice. In fact, these kits usually come with disclaimers that state they are not a proper substitute for a lawyer. Proper estate planning requires legal education and experience.
Your estate plan should be tailored to your goals and adhere to the right laws. DIY tools only give you documents that may not actually be correct or legally binding.