DIY wills: Why going it alone is a bad idea

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Carl S. Goode |

Every adult over 18 years of age should have a basic estate plan in place, including a will – but don’t cut corners and try to create yours using a do-it-yourself option online.

While DIY templates offer to “save you money,” they could cost your loved ones (and your estate). Here are some of the reasons why DIY wills are just poor planning:

1. They can be overly generic

Estate planning is something that has to be tailored to each testator’s specific goals and needs. Pre-made will templates lack that kind of customization. In addition, you have no way of knowing if the version you happen to land upon is even compliant with the state-specific rules that are in place that are required for the will to be valid.

2. They are prone to inconsistencies

Ambiguity in the details of your will can create confusion about your intentions and lead to estate battles and a lot of heartache for your loved ones. Contradictory clauses, on the other hand, could cause the court to declare parts or all of your will invalid.

3. They don’t help with tax planning

A professionally crafted estate plan can help you minimize estate taxes and probate. A DIY will could end up depleting the value of your estate due to these issues alone, leaving less behind for your loved ones.

4. You can overlook important considerations

Estate planning isn’t just about what happens to your things when you die – it’s also about what happens to you if you ever become incapacitated. You may want to include powers of attorney for your financial and health care needs, a health care directive and other documents in your estate plan that a DIY will cannot provide.

If you’re ready to get your estate plan in order, it is always best to seek experienced legal assistance.

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