Websites and companies like LegalZoom and others promise users the opportunity to tackle their legal needs without having to consult with an attorney and pay an attorney’s allegedly-high fees. Instead, these outfits deliver forms and pleadings to users, who are then responsible for entering the pertinent information into the forms and filing them with the appropriate court (if necessary). These businesses have given the average legal services consumer greater flexibility and independence, but this may not be a good thing when it comes to estate planning.
Three Reasons Why You Should Not “Do It Yourself”
Some individuals may be able to make effective use of “do it yourself” kits and services, especially if they have few assets and no or few heirs. For everyone else, however, these kits and services can prove more problematic than beneficial. Unfortunately, individuals may never know how problematic their “do it yourself” will or trust is. Instead, their heirs and beneficiaries will be the ones who find out when the representative attempts to admit the will or the trustee begins to administer the trust. Three common problems are often found where the decedent used a do-it-yourself service or kit:
- Choosing the wrong estate-planning documents: While a do-it-yourself kit or service can help you create a trust or a will, they often do a poor job of helping you decide which document is more appropriate for your situation. If you need a trust but only create a will, you may find your estate-planning goals frustrated. If you need a will but create a trust, it may be unnecessarily complicated and expensive to handle your affairs.
- Not keeping up with current laws: Although the statutes governing wills and trusts do not change as often as other areas of the law (such as criminal laws), changes can and do occur. Sometimes these changes are minor, but other times the changes can be quite sweeping. Attempting to “do-it-yourself” without knowing about these changes or how they impact the estate-planning process and the considerations that must be made as a part of the process can lead to mistakes that render your estate plan ineffective or unenforceable.
- Unintended consequences or situations: An estate-planning “do-it-yourself” kit and service can help you create a will or trust that accurately records your wishes, but they often cannot tell you the short- and long-term ramifications of those actions. An attorney is able to consider your estate plan as a whole and help you see how your choices will impact your heirs and beneficiaries (both intentionally and unintentionally).
Call for a No Cost Estate Planning Consultation Today
For these reasons and others, contact an experienced Ohio estate planning attorney to help you create a legally-sound estate plan. At the Law Office of John C. Grundy, we offer a free, no cost initial estate planning consultation for our clients so they can learn the benefits of our representation and advice. Call our office today at (330) 637-9030 to schedule your consultation, or contact us online.