The Perils of Drafting Your Own Will or Trust

26 Mar

Estate planning used to be a niche carved out by attorneys who had been drafting wills and trusts for years.  However, as technology has evolved, the options available to those looking for an estate plan have expanded.  Not only are more attorneys preparing wills and trusts (which comes at its own risk), but the emergence of companies and websites offering do it yourself estate planning has changed the game.

I’ll cut straight to the chase.  Cost plays a major role in deciding when and how to do estate planning, and there is no doubt that one size fits all estate planning is the cheapest option.  However, do those using this option know exactly what they are drafting?

So just what can the consequences be of do it yourself estate planning?  For one, the documents may not be executed properly, making them invalid and putting the self drafter at square one.  Another big issue with trusts is improper funding, which defeats the whole purpose of setting up a trust to begin with.  Other problems that can arise are appointing the wrong person as a fiduciary or improperly providing for beneficiaries as they intended.  The list goes on from there.

When I draft a will or trust for a client they sometimes complain about the length of the documents.  One reason why there are so many pages is because there is a lot of necessary and important legal language that protects the creator and provides for his or her beneficiaries.  If self drafters don’t know what all these provisions mean, how do they know that they have the proper safeguards and appropriate language in place?  The solution to this problem is to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney who will not only guide you in the right direction, but explain what everything means.

Can things work out with drafting your own estate plan?  Sure, but why risk it.  You work your whole life to acquire assets and grow your net worth, and an estate plan should ensure your assets are protected and go to who you intended in the most efficient way possible.

This post is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. It is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and is offered only for general informational and educational purposes. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

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