Do It Yourself Estate Planning: A Big Mistake!

We live in the age of the internet. There are numerous websites that provide information with regard to preparing your own wills and trusts. Many of these self service legal websites have spent significant amounts of money advertising their services on the internet. They purport to provide you a way of one stop shopping in the area of estate planning and avoiding the expense and inconvenience of dealing with attorneys. Unfortunately, it is the writer’s experience these websites provide general information which is often inaccurate with regard to the laws and requirements of estate planning in specific states. In addition, much of the general advice on these websites does not deal with the specific requirements that individuals have in a family based estate plan.

Staff on Websites Are Generally Not Lawyers

The individuals who work for these estate planning legal websites, are generally speaking, not lawyers, and if they are lawyers, it is exceedingly unlikely they would have the knowledge of the technicalities involved in estate planning in all fifty states of the United States. The idea that one will or one trust fits all needs simply does not work. Individuals who work on these internet estate planning websites are not providing you with legal advice. What they are doing is simply processing the information based on a computer software program that may or may not apply to your individual situation. The documents they provide to you are not interactive documents. The do it yourself legal companies are not authorized to practice law. Therefore in the event they were to actually try to provide you with interactive personalized documents, they would be committing the unauthorized practice of law which is a crime in most states subjecting them to potential criminal penalties.

Estate Planning Documents

The tax laws, wills, trusts and estates laws, and the procedures involving wills, trusts and estates and the probating of wills are specific with regard to each state, and sometimes with regard to each county in the state. Lawyers who handle estate planning and probate matters developed expertise, often over decades, which allows them to work with their clients to protect their clients’ best interests. An inappropriately drafted will or trust can cause much more damage than having no will or trust at all. Using a form to accomplish your goals, may provide you with a sense of false security. However, in many situations, it is more likely to result in more harm than good. Inaccuracies in the documents, mistakes in the preparation of the documents, failure to execute the document in the appropriate manner with all necessary legal technicalities can cause the document to be invalid and not accomplish your goals.


help in estate planningIf you want to have a will or trust prepared, deal with an estate in the Surrogate’s Court, or probate a will for a deceased individual, do yourself a favor and get it right the first time. Hire an experienced estate planning attorney!