The do-it-yourself crowd has access to tools that were unimaginable even a decade ago. Those tools can be powerful, but therein lies the problem. Power, in the hands of the inexperienced, can be disastrous. If you are considering creating an estate plan on your own, it is important to have an accurate understanding of exactly when a problem is beyond your ability to solve.
Online legal documents
It is a simple matter to find a “template” last will and testament in most states. These documents might be available for free or for a fee that seems modest when compared with having documents drafted professionally. In some cases, such a template might enough to accomplish your estate planning goals. But will you know if something important has been left out?
Complications multiply rapidly
The primary problem with templates is that are not easily adjustable. A single wrinkle that makes your situation different from that of the person the template was created for can throw everything into disarray. Those complications can be relatively common issues such as remarriage, business ownership, tax deferred savings accounts and more. If the template doesn’t cover those issues, your plan is incomplete.
The cost of failure
A template could still be fine, if you are unconcerned about what happens if your plans fall through. If you don’t have strong feelings about how your property and loved ones will be treated after you pass, it may make sense to go with whatever option is cheapest and hope it all works out. If the cost of failure is minimal, DIY solutions can be fine.
If, however, you have minor children or a legacy that is important to you, you might want to consider getting experienced, professional advice in creating your estate plan.