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What is the Difference Between a DIY Estate Plan and Hiring an Attorney?

April 4, 2022 / Estate Planning

A couple with their lawyer structuring their estate plan

In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the popularity of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. A recent survey found that approximately half of homeowners nationwide plan to do at least one significant DIY project each year to prove their living space. In the right context, a do-it-yourself project can be a fulfilling, rewarding way to save some money. 

That being said, not all endeavors are well-suited for do-it-yourself projects. You and your family may be far better off working with a professional. Estate planning is an example of a field in which the DIY risk far outweighs the potential reward. In this article, you find an overview of do-it-yourself estate plans and the advantages of hiring a professional estate planning attorney

What is Do-it-Yourself (DIY) Estate Planning?

Estate planning is critically important. It is about setting yourself, your family, and your finances up for the future. Every adult should have a comprehensive estate plan in place. As described by the American Bar Association (ABA), DIY estate planning is essentially a form of amateur estate planning. It is a version of estate planning where a person largely relies on formulaic web-based tools to write their own will and create other estate planning documents. Indeed, DIY estate planning has become more common with the rise of internet-based tools. 

A DIY Estate Plan is Too Risky for Most People 

The reasons why people consider DIY estate planning are similar to the reasons why people pursue other do-it-yourself projects. It can be rewarding to complete a key project on your own and—even more importantly for most people—it offers the promise of saving money. Though, the savings associated with DIY estate planning may only be on the front-end. A do-it-yourself estate plan can be an incredibly risky estate plan. Here are four reasons to be concerned about DIY estate planning: 

  • Failure to Follow Legal Requirements: There are very strict legal requirements that estate planning documents must meet in order to be valid—and these rules can vary from state-to-state. A DIY estate plan risks being ruled invalid. It might not be followed.  
  • Missing Documents: Do you know every document that should be included in your specific estate plan? A do-it-yourself estate plan may not have all of the components that you need to achieve your goals and effectively protect yourself and your family. This can cause serious problems in the future. 
  • Ambiguous Terms Causes Conflict: An estate plan should be clear and comprehensive. One of the biggest sources of conflict in estate planning is ambiguous language. DIY estate plans are often not clear enough. Disputes can and do arise between close family members. 
  • Lack of Consideration to Financial Needs: An estate plan should meet the unique financial needs of you and your family. Many DIY estate plans fail to account for unique financial considerations—it could cost you and your loved ones many thousands of dollars in additional tax liability, more legal fees, or even claims from outside creditors. 

You and Your Family Can Get True Peace and Security With an Attorney

For the vast majority of people, a professional estate plan can provide true peace, security, and protection. You will not have to worry about navigating the estate planning process alone. Some of the key benefits of retaining an estate plan attorney include: 

  • An opportunity to speak to a professional who can hear your story and explain your options; 
  • Genuine confidence that your estate planning documents are legally valid; 
  • Full customization of your estate plan—to ensure that it meets your specific needs; and 
  • The easy ability to update your estate plan to account for life’s changing circumstances. 

There is a common misconception that an estate planning attorney is expensive. The reality is that professional estate planning guidance and support is a cost effective option for many people and families. Working with a skilled estate planning attorney can save you a lot of money in the long run. 

Schedule Your Confidential Consultation With an Estate Planning Lawyer Today

At EstateGenius, our estate planning attorneys are standing by, ready to help you and your family build a personalized plan that provides the most maximum protection and peace of mind. If you have questions about wills, trusts, powers of attorney, or any other estate planning issues, we can help. Call us now or send us a message to arrange your initial appointment with an estate planning attorney. We provide professional estate planning services in Washington, California, and Michigan.