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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

DIY Estate Planning Does Not Work Well For Everyone

The Do-It-Yourself, or DIY, movement has become huge since the Great Recession. What started as a necessity has now become a hobby. Hipsters have gone mainstream and it seems like everyone is taking to Instagram to show off pictures of their home brewed kombucha or a bookcase made from an old shipping pallet. But there is one task that DIYers should be extra cautious about tackling on their own: estate planning.

There is a lot of advice on the internet about how to DIY a basic estate plan. And there are a ton of low cost providers willing to take your information online and spit out a cookie-cutter will. And for some people, like those with no kids and few assets, free advice or an online form-builder may work just fine. But if you have children, own property, or are at risk of developing a disease that will take away your ability to make healthcare decisions for yourself, spending the extra money to meet face it face and work with an experienced estate planning attorney in your area is worth it.

Contrary to popular belief, estate plans include much more than a basic will. A will is just one part of a whole package of documents that will ensure your final days are lived in as much comfort as possible and your last requests are honored. Power of attorney documents that give others the ability to make financial and health decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated play a big role here, as do trusts, which are not just for the rich and famous anymore.

Although the DIY movement as a whole has become trendy, cost is still a big driver of the DIY legal movement. The best advice is to try not to worry about the cost of working with an attorney until you get an actual quote from one. A lot of people are surprised at how reasonable the price is for the peace of mind it brings. And some attorneys offer payment plans if paying the full cost at one time presents a challenge.

It is impossible to provide an estimate of how much it will cost to put together a proper estate plan without knowing specific details about the lives and needs of the person requesting a plan. Any attorney that offers a cost estimate without such information is not one you want to work with. So, before you DIY an estate plan or settle for a cut-rate plan from the internet, take time to talk to an experienced attorney in your area.


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