Don’t trust DIY estate planning

| Apr 12, 2019 | Estate Planning

No one wants to leave their family in the dark after they’re gone, but many people put off estate planning. The idea can be daunting, and the process will take time.

But, there’s a reason why it’s important to use a profession to get your estate plan right. Here are just a few of the risks of “Do It Yourself” estate plans.

Creating your will yourself

Many people hold the misconception that should they become severely injured or ill, they can simply write down, record or tell their family what their wishes are. Unfortunately, these DIY wills are not generally not considered valid by the state.

In fact, a nuncupative will, otherwise known as an oral will, is not valid under any circumstances in Maryland. This includes any video or audio recordings of the testator.

For hand-written wills, also called holographic wills, the wishes will only be accepted by a probate court if the document was written by a U.S. Armed Forces serviceman or woman is serving outside of the U.S. and if the document is produced within one year of the deceased person having been discharged.

Using an online kit

Some sites promote online kits that ask you questions and allow you to fill in the answers to create a comprehensive will and last testament quickly online. The only issue is, these documents aren’t actually comprehensive in virtually any case.

By using an online form, you run the risk of the language being vague. This could cause issues in probate court if your beneficiaries are uncertain or disagree on how to interpret your wishes. This language could even prevent the will from actually being enforceable.

Additionally, because you won’t be sitting down with a professional who is aware of your unique situation and well-versed in estate planning law, you won’t receive additional insight on options you can choose to save on taxes or distributing your inheritance responsibly.

An attorney can help after a will is done

Following the completion of your estate plan, you may develop a need for your lawyer again. This could be the case if you want your lawyer to store your will for you. This can keep the document from being lost, misplaced or tampered with.

Additionally, you may want to visit this lawyer to make adjustments to your will if new family members are born, others pass on or you need to make changes to your financial decisions.

This lawyer may even be selected as the executor of your estate, which would put them in charge of settling your estate’s debts, distributing inheritance to beneficiaries, beginning probate proceedings and more. In retrospect, choosing not to do your will yourself, can help keep your beneficiaries from putting in more work that will ultimately cost more time, money and energy.