Do It Yourself Services for Estate Planning vs. Hiring an Attorney

Would you operate on your family member’s brain or heart, not being a surgeon?

While some projects can turn into do-it-yourself task to save money, others you should not attempt to do on your own. One such task is creating an estate planning for you and your family through do-it-yourself (DIY) sites, like LegalZoom. Most of these sites promote themselves by charging a significantly lower rate for the documents prepared, than an attorney would. However, what are those documents worth in the end?

Each state has its own laws and rules when it comes to how the documents should be prepared and signed, what needs to be contained in them, as well as how to make the intended distributions. If a document is not prepared in compliance with the law, it might not be admitted for probate when the maker passes away, making it worthless and useless.

While many think of estate planning as simply having a will, in fact, an effective estate plan is a collection of documents that fulfill your wishes as to what you would like to have happen with your assets in case of incapacity or after you pass away. It also can ensure that your loved ones are taken care of when you are no longer able to take care of them and support them.

How an Attorney Might Help?

The biggest advantage to having an attorney prepare the documents is that the client is getting a custom-made documents, that are created with the client’s goals and intentions in mind. Generic forms provided by DIY sites will never be able to fully reflect the client’s purpose in making the estate plan. This can result in confusion, anger and disappointment in family if upon the death of the maker, the distributions are made differently than what the maker intended and might have informed his or her family members of.

In addition, an attorney is there to discuss with her clients the different aspects of the estate plan, can fully explain the different documents to determine what the client needs and can help make certain determinations, such as who should be the guardian of a minor child, or what assets can be named in a certain way to avoid probate.

The attorney is also there to ensure that the documents prepared meet the state requirements as to its form and language. Depending on a state, there are rules that govern how a will needs to be signed, what must be included in a will, as well as the language that needs to be used in order to be dispositive in nature.

One way to reduce the cost of estate planning when working with an attorney is by taking the time to do the homework before the consultation with the attorney. Bringing any previously prepared estate planning documents, preparing a list of assets and liabilities, as well as having an idea of potential beneficiaries, will make the consultation quicker and easier for all parties.

Another thing to keep in mind is that estate planning documents need updating. If you have children, get married or divorced, a party in your already created plan passes away, or you come into a large sum of money or valuable asset, you’ll need to adjust your documents to account for any of those changes.

As it turns out in most situations with DIY services, while the maker might have saved some money when making the estate plan, the maker or the heirs are later faced with serious and expensive legal problems, when the documents turn out to be completed incorrectly and ineffectively. However, in most cases, those errors are usually discovered after the death of the maker, when it is too late to make the necessary changes. Therefore, working with an attorney can save a lot of stress and money for all parties involved in the family’s estate plan.

To ensure that your estate planning is updated and created effectively, please call/text 216-586-4246 to schedule an appointment.

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