There are do-it-yourself estate planning downloads and worksheets that are offered by certain websites. They suggest that it is a snap to draw up your own last will or living trust and that you can simply plan your estate without legal assistance.
In fact, you may well be making a mistake if you try to go it alone. There are many different reasons why you would do well to engage the assistance of a licensed estate planning lawyer when you are executing a last will or a living trust.
The respected magazine Consumer Reports recently advised against do-it-yourself estate planning, confirming what legal professionals have been saying all along.
One of the problems with self-service estate planning is the fact that the average layperson is going to have no idea how to administer an estate.
Let’s say you simply print out some documents that you constructed using a worksheet that you download off the Internet and put them in a lock box somewhere. After you pass away your family opens the box and extracts the documents. What do they do next?
Do your family members know how to initiate the probate process? Are they in a position to administer a revocable living trust? Do they understand estate tax laws?
Estate administration is part of the equation, and things don’t take care of themselves. The wise course of action is to work with a good estate planning attorney to originally construct your documents. You can then make arrangements with this attorney to assist in the administration of your estate after you pass away and your family will know exactly where to turn.