The Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning

The burgeoning popularity of the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Movement has people making all kinds of things that most of us would buy, from chairs and ladders to beer and cider. There is something very American about striving to be self-sufficient, and anyone can understand the satisfaction of making something from scratch. That being said, some things are still best left to professionals, and addressing legal matters, including the making of an estate plan, is one of them.

Last week, Fox 4 had a well-done news segment on the risks involved in do-it-yourself  estate planning. The piece lays out some of the dangers that those who go it alone (or use forms they find in books or online) can face. An estate plan should be a legacy, easing the difficulty of our friends and family in the most challenging of times. But when done incorrectly, they can often make matters worse, and add expenses or bitter disputes to the pain of a loss. A knowledgeable estate planner can help avoid such an outcome.

The piece also mentions affordability. Edelman, Liesen & Myers, L.L.P. offers flat-fee billing for many of our estate planning services. And while upfront cost is something everyone needs to consider, one thing the story does not mention is the high costs associated with probate litigation. An incomplete or wrongly done estate plan can generate contentious lawsuits that costs many times more than an estate plan would. Like so many things in the law and in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.