Once you get married or decide to have children, you more than likely think about how you need to protect your spouse or your children if you were to die suddenly. Of course, estate planning is never easy to think about, so you keep putting it off.
But then you have a family member die without a will and see the mess your relatives are dealing with. Suddenly, completing one of those easy, inexpensive online DIY wills sounds like a really good idea. It would be better than nothing, right?
Well, maybe not.
Online DIY wills have been a popular choice for decades now. However, that doesn’t mean they protect your estate in the same way a will drafted by a lawyer, for you specifically, would. Here are some ways a DIY will might not help you as much as you think:
- DIY often wills aren’t specialized—covering your state’s probate statutes and codes. Each state has its own statues and codes, and if they change, those changes may not be reflected in a boilerplate, cheaper DIY will. Often, you must purchase a more expensive online option for that.
- DIY wills are only as good as the information you put in them. When you work with an attorney to create an estate plan, the attorney will review a lot of information with you personally. If you forget about an asset or personal piece of property you want addressed, the attorney may remind you about that. Also, many people have no idea where to start when it comes to creating a will and doing a full estate plan—an attorney can walk you through that process step by step, making sure to address your specific needs.
- DIY wills often don’t give detailed instructions, reducing confusion for your heirs. If you have treasured family heirloom piece of jewelry you want to pass down to a niece or cousin, or you have a specific cause you want family members to use estate funds to support, a DIY will might not cover that well—so, your wishes might not happen as you’d like them to.
- DIY wills can get out of date easily. You may think that once you’ve completed a will, a living will, a power of attorney and health care directive, you’re done. You don’t have to think about estate planning again. However, once you’ve completed an estate plan, DIY or otherwise, you should revisit it every five years to update it. With an attorney, those updates might not cost a lot or you may get a reminder that you need to review your estate plan again. However, with a DIY will, you really are on your own to remember to update it and you don’t know how easily you can make revisions in the future.
It’s never too early or too late to create a will and estate plan. Anyone who wants to control distributing their assets shouldn’t be afraid of taking on this task. With help from an experienced estate planning attorney, you’ll have peace of mind about how your will protects assets and your family members.