ARTICLE: 3 Common Mistakes with Do It Yourself (“DIY”) Estate Planning

3 Common Mistakes with Do It Yourself (“DIY”) Estate Planning

Some people avoid hiring estate planning attorneys out of fear of the expenses associated with drafting a Will or other estate planning documents. Instead, they attempt to develop their estate plan themselves. While it is not required to hire an attorney to create an estate plan, it is wise to do so, as the costs associated with hiring an attorney are minimal compared to the expenses that a person’s family may have to expend due to clear up ambiguities or fix mistakes in their DIY estate plan. 

Executing Documents Improperly

One of the most common mistakes that occurs in DIY estate planning is the failure to understand or abide by the laws that apply in the state where the document or tool was developed. For example, under New York law, there are specific requirements that must be followed in order for a Will to be considered valid. This is also true of Trusts (although the requirements for a Trust to be valid are different than what is needed for a Will to be valid). If a person fails to abide by these rules or any other laws regarding how to execute their estate planning documents, the courts may deem the documents invalid and ignore the documents. 

Vague Provisions

Another mistake people frequently make when drafting estate planning documents themselves is failing to include provisions that apply to their specific circumstances. In other words, they may copy a template from the internet or a form book without adjusting it to their unique situation, which can lead to oversights or confusion. For example, if a Will simply states that a person’s descendants should share in the estate equally but fails to clarify whether descendants solely refers to their children or includes grandchildren as well, it can cause discord among family members. 

Failing to Plan for Old Age or Unforeseen Issues

Estate planning attorneys have expansive knowledge regarding what people need to plan for in the future, which most people lack. As such, people who develop their own estate plan often fail to consider issues such as what care they would like to receive in the event they become mentally or physically incapacitated, or how their estate should be divided in the event one spouse dies before another. People also may not know which assets pass outside of the control of their Will, how debts should be handled, and the tax implications of their testamentary decisions. 

Meet with a Trusted Estate Planning Lawyer in Corning

Few people possess the knowledge and skills needed to develop a comprehensive estate plan without the assistance of an attorney, and mistakes made during DIY estate planning can be costly. If you wish to develop an estate plan, it is advisable to meet with a trusted estate planning lawyer to determine what tools you can employ to meet your goals.  If you currently have a DIY estate plan and would like to review it to determine if you and your family are protected, please call Roth Elder Law, PLLC today so that we can help ensure you have the best estate plan possible, and your family is taken care of. 

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We at Roth Elder Law, PLLC, believe in providing services in a way that clients can easily understand and meaningfully participate in designing and maintaining their estate plan for their loved ones, as well as be assured that their plan will be administered according to their wishes.