Do it yourself (DIY) estate planning is something I’ve warned families about many times. My first personal experience with it was reviewing an “estate plan” done on Legal Zoom. You can read about it in this previous blog post. Then again, you would probably expect me to discourage families from using DIY estate planning products because I’m an estate planning attorney.
The question asked by many families is, “why should I hire an attorney when we can do our own estate planning (using online forms, etc.)?” That’s a valid question. After all, many people change the oil in their own car and fix things around their home. Why not create your own estate plan?
Well, I recently ran across this Forbes.com article on “What Could Happen if you Write Your Own Living Trust,” and am sharing it because it’s not written by an estate planning attorney. I encourage you to read the article yourself, as I believe Ms. Jacobs does a great job covering some of the practical downsides of doing your own planning.
The article’s many good points can be summed up in this statement: “The trouble with do-it-yourself planning is that even if your situation seems simple, there are many oddball things a layman wouldn’t think of that can go wrong, especially with wills and trusts. These mistakes can end up costing you or your heirs a lot more than you saved in legal fees.”
So, what do you think? If you still want to do your own estate planning, what’s keeping you from working with an attorney? Fees? Reputation of attorneys? Let us know and we’ll help you through those decisions, whether we end up working together or not. Call us today at 616-827-7596.
Michael Lichterman is an estate planning and charitable planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™. This goes beyond merely planning for “stuff” – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you. He focuses on estate, charitable, and asset protection planning for all generations (“young” and “experienced”), the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses, and pet planning. He enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients centered on their family’s values, insights, stories and experiences.