DIY estate planning
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

The proliferation of home improvement shows combined with the ability to search for practically anything on the Internet has led to a boom in do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. People are doing everything from repairing their home appliances to writing complex legal agreements. The advent of artificial intelligence programs like ChatGPT is bolstering this movement, with people thinking they can do their own DIY estate planning. However, these folks could be setting themselves up for disaster. 

There is an old saying that people have to know their own limitations. This is certainly true if they think they can accomplish their estate planning goals with a basic will template they downloaded off of a website. Estate planning relies on a combination of state laws that govern how property and assets can be transferred upon the death of a loved one, and state and federal tax laws. So, when you see that downloadable free last will and testament, keep in mind that you often get what you paid for.

Common Dangers and Shortcomings of DIY Estate Planning

Whenever you are setting up a will or trust, you are looking to do things to benefit your loved ones. The goal is to provide for them to be taken care of upon your death. The last thing you want to do is to create more headaches for them. This is usually the case when you do your own estate plan from a simple template you found on a website.

A big part of estate planning is actually tax planning. Certain things can be done to minimize the taxes your loved ones will pay when they inherit your assets. This is why so many folks choose to set up a trust instead of using a will. But do you know the differences between a revocable trust and one that is irrevocable? Are you sure you are choosing the right one for you? Has your estate plans been drafted in the appropriate way to take advantage of certain tax benefits? Chances are, that free last will and testament you downloaded doesn’t even scratch the surface of proper tax planning. If you use it, there’s a good chance your heirs will be paying taxes that a skilled attorney could have helped them avoid.

Another issue is that wills have to contain certain provisions, as well as be executed according to applicable law, in order to pass muster with the probate court. A basic will template may not have sufficient language to satisfy the probate courts in Ohio and Kentucky. Moreover, the instruction sheet may neglect to tell you the proper procedures for executing the will. If your will is not accepted by the court, then it will be up to the judge on the right way to distribute your assets instead of according to your wishes.

You also run the risk that your estate plan may be incomplete, leaving out assets or individuals that should have been included. You may also neglect to include key contingencies, like the cost of long-term care and chronic medical conditions. When you sit down with an estate attorney, he or she will go over all of your options, creating a checklist to make sure everything is covered. This is not something that your Chat GPT can ever address.

Finally, preparing your estate plan with an attorney gives you the opportunity to discuss your situation with an objective third party. This allows you to go over all of your options while preventing you from making a rash decision that could harm your family. Even if you think your family situation is unique, the odds are that your attorney will probably have already handled a similar matter with another client. In this way, going to an attorney will cost you less money in the long run than if you tried to do all of your estate planning work yourself.

Call Us for All of Your Estate Planning Needs

The attorneys at Shaw & Nelson are experienced in all aspects of estate planning and will help you prepare one that suits your family and lifestyle perfectly. Book a call with one of our team members and let someone else play around with one of those DIY will templates.