Naturally, you are always on the lookout for ways to save money. Anything you can do around your house means you won't have to pay someone else to do for you. If you can change your own oil in your car, you can save a few bucks. If home remedies work for your colds and aches, why run to the doctor?
It is important to know, however, that sometimes seeking the advice of a professional is the safest way to avoid unpleasant consequences. This is true for your home and your health, and it is also true for your legal matters. While you may be able to save some money by using an online, do-it-yourself estate planning document, you may not accomplish your goals.
Online estate planning is a risk
A DIY will or trust is typically a blank form you can download from a website. You fill it in, print it out and sign it. However, if you do not know that the laws in California require a valid will to have two witness signatures, you may miss this important stipulation, and this could result in your heirs disputing the authenticity of your will. Some of the other drawbacks of an online estate plan include these:
- They are intentionally vague in order to have a nationwide appeal, but this vagueness may also overlook critical state-specific probate laws.
- You may never realize your estate plan does not comply with California laws, leaving your loved ones to deal with the confusion.
- Estate planning websites assume you understand the options available and know what you want, but you may not fully comprehend the most appropriate tools for your situation.
- If you have questions about your estate plan, a DIY site may offer little more help than an FAQ page or a limited consultation with an attorney.
- Most online estate planning forms cannot accommodate any unique circumstances, such as heirs with special needs, blended families or charitable giving.
Since only about 40 percent of adults in America have an estate plan in place, you may think that using an online DIY service is better than nothing. However, if the poor quality of your estate plan leads to disputes among your heirs, this could result in prolonged and expensive probate litigation. Saving a few dollars on your oil change is one thing, but for complete and thorough estate planning, it is wise to rely on a skilled attorney.