If you search the Internet for information about estate planning you may stumble upon websites that are designed to sell generic legal documents. You can just search through the different types of documents and select the one that you want.
Then all you have to do is fill in the blanks and you have an estate plan in place. Or at least this is how the story goes.
Last year Consumer Reports advised against DIY estate planning after having legal professors examine last wills that were created using tools provided by three of the more popular online legal document purveyors. While this is telling to say the least we would like to look at another angle here.
Even if you were fortunate enough to construct a document that served its purpose, how do you know that this was the correct legal device to utilize?
For example, if you create your own last will as a way to transfer assets to your loved ones the estate must be probated before anyone will receive their inheritances. It is possible to arrange for assets transfers outside of probate.
Asset protection is important for many people. You would not be protecting your assets in any way if you direct future distributions of your resources via the utilization of a last will.
Those who have estate tax concerns will gain no tax efficiency with a will.
A lot can go wrong when you’re planning your estate if you try to go it alone. Given the high stakes involved you may want to discuss your unique situation with a licensed estate planning attorney before you buy into any do-it-yourself “solutions.”
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Ryan M. DenmanandDennis D. Duffy
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