3 Unintended Consequences of Do-it-Yourself Estate Planning
By Solid Serenity Legal Solutions
For a lot of people, doing things on their own seems like an attractive option. They can get what they need, and often, save some cash by doing it themselves. Taking initiative and handling things on our own can be great, but if you try to take on a complex issue on your own, the results can be disastrous.
Estate planning is a complex area, and no matter how small your estate, it is not a task you should do alone. Though many financial gurus tout the benefits of estate plans, they wrongly encourage their followers to make their own plans online or with forms by themselves. You really shouldn’t go it alone on this one.
If you haven’t started your plan, find out what you need to consider for your plan here.
Now, we’ll discuss 3 unintended consequences of do-it-yourself estate planning.
(1) Your Assets Might Not Pass the Way You Want
Many states have strict requirements for estate planning documents. If your documents don’t meet those requirements, they will likely be found invalid.
For instance, in Oklahoma, you may be able to entirely handwrite a Will and a Court will recognize it. However, the Will must be dated, signed, and completely handwritten by you to qualify. If your Will is typed, there are additional criteria that are required to make your Will valid.
For a trust to truly work, each item you wish to pass through your trust must be properly titled into the trust before your death.
If a Will is found to be invalid, your whole purpose for writing your Will is defeated. If your trust is not funded properly, your trust will not work. When these documents fail, the Courts will apply Oklahoma law through probate to determine who will inherit your assets for you.
(2) Your DIY Plan Might Be Incomplete
Not only are there formal requirements to make estate planning documents valid, there are specific ways to address property you haven’t accounted for in your plan. Throughout our lives, things change. We may acquire more real estate, or earn more money, or our family might grow.
Many online document banks and other forms don’t have the proper language to account for these changes in your plan. You need residuary clauses in your documents to account for any items you don’t specifically list, or your assets will have to pass to your heirs through probate under Oklahoma law.
(3) Your DIY Plan Might Cost Your Heirs More Than a Strong Estate Plan Would’ve Cost You
One thing is certain, if your plan isn’t drafted and completed properly it might save you money, but it will cost your heirs a lot of time, money, and heartache. When the issues we have discussed arise in Court, your heirs will have to come out of pocket for court costs and attorney fees. Those fees alone cost far more than working with a trusted advisor in the first place.
Reach out to one of our attorneys to make sure your goals are addressed in your plan!