There are sites on the Internet that sell do-it-yourself legal documents, including estate planning documents. The sales pitch is that you just fill in the blanks and you have a perfectly well constructed estate plan.
Is DIY estate planning really a good idea? To answer this question, think about the magnitude of the activity. When you are planning your estate, you are facilitating the distribution of everything that you have accumulated throughout your life to the people that you care about the most. This is something that you may want to discuss with a licensed legal professional before you make any final decisions.
Since we are an estate planning law firm, you may find the comments above to be self-serving to some extent. This is understandable, but independent, objective analysts have weighed in on the subject.
A few years ago, the highly respected magazine and website Consumer Reports became interested in the concept of DIY estate planning. They decided to dig into the subject from a purely objective and analytical perspective so that they could advise their readership.
The magazine instructed staffers to create last wills using hypothetical circumstances. They utilized worksheets and templates that were being offered by three of the most popular online legal document purveyors.
Once the documents were created, Consumer Reports engaged the expertise of three different legal professors who were affiliated with three major American universities. They examined the last will documents, and they came away with some distinct impressions.
The professors found that unintended negative consequences could come about if you use these DIY estate planning documents that you can buy off the Internet. After hearing everything the professors had to say about the matter, Consumer Reports came out with a recommendation against the utilization of do-it-yourself estate planning notions. (In fairness, they did say that under the simplest of circumstances a person could probably get by with one of these boilerplate documents.)
Informed Decision Making
The efficacy of DIY estate planning documents that you could purchase on the Internet is one thing to be concerned about, but there is another factor to take into consideration. Are you sure that you know the right document that you should utilize given your unique set of circumstances?
Many people assume that a last will is the only choice if you are not a millionaire, but this is not the case. There are a number of different trusts that can be more effective in many instances.
If you would like to obtain some useful information about the options that are available to you, attend one of our free workshops. We offer these workshops at various locations throughout the greater Naples/Fort Myers area, and you can click this link to access our schedule: Free Estate Planning Workshops.