There’s an abundance of online help for all sorts of do-it-yourself projects. You can find instructions on how to build a birdbath, fix your phone or prepare a gourmet meal. All you need are a few minutes and a few dollars and your DIY project is ready to go.
Not all DIY projects are created equal, however. Though there are websites peddling legal forms for “quick and easy” creation of wills and trusts, these one-size-fits-all estate planning documents can too often “lead to expensive and unpleasant estate planning mistakes,” according to Forbes
The attorney who wrote the piece noted that he had recently visited an estate-planning site that was littered with typos and, worse, offers for the same planning document in packages with three different names and at three different prices.
DIY estate planning sites promote “personal plans” and “personal pricing,” but the experience is online, not in person. You simply click on the items you think you’ll need and then enter your credit card information. (The pricing formula is simple: the more forms you download, the more you pay.)
But even the DIY sites acknowledge their not-slight limitations, noting that the content of the site “is not intended to be legal advice” and that if you have questions or if you need terms clarified or if you had any of a number of life events – you’ve moved to New York or out of New York, gotten married or divorced, etc. – you should “consider consulting a legal professional.”
Putting expense in perspective
What’s left unsaid is that after DIY estate planning documents have been downloaded and filled out, they are too often incomplete, incorrect or invalid. They can leave customers – or the families of customers – dealing with problems that can be far more expensive to repair than they would have been to prevent.
If you are in or near White Plains, please let us know if we can help you create an estate plan that fits you and your family.