In the digital world as we see it today, virtually everything can be done online, even estate planning. You can easily download a will, trust, or power of attorney document from different software and fill it out. It seems as easy as pie.
But when you do estate planning digitally without expert guidance, there is great tendency for errors. How are you sure you are filling it right? Are you very familiar with the state laws?
Let’s take a quick look into some common errors people make when estate planning through digital means.
1. Not customizing their estate plan
Once you download a will or other estate plan online, what you get is what every other user gets. The server has no knowledge about the particular situation in your estate and family; it has no idea exactly how you want to plan. So what people do is to simply fill out the form as they see it without addressing the peculiarity of their estate, such as property they own in multiple states, having a minor or child with special needs, etc. You would not be able to make provisions for all of that.
And in trying to customize the document, many people have ended up ruining its validity.
2. Believing you need no expert hands
In the digital world as we have it today, we have come to believe that we can get every help we need online. Laws, requirements for your wills, validity, and how to notarize a will; they are all there on Google. But we can’t deny the fact that these things are simplified on blog posts. They are made simplistic so you can easily grasp the concept. When it comes to the real deal, you may or may not need expert assistance. If your estate is simple with no peculiarities, you can easily DIY. But when it’s complex, you want to avoid making costly mistakes.
It is advisable to consult an experienced estate planning attorney to get the assistance you need.
3 Invalidating your estate plan
Each state has very specific requirements in determining which estate planning document may be legally enforceable. If you fail to meet any of these requirements, no matter how tiny, the document will end up being discarded.
We have seen many clients who created their estate plan using one software or the other. And in many cases, we have had to make corrections or completely overhaul the document. In some unfortunate cases, family members have brought wills their deceased loved ones prepared digitally. And then we have had to break it to them that the document was invalid.
4. Using your estate plan to cause more harm than good
It goes without saying that when an individual creates their estate plan via software, they may not have a full understanding of the laws applicable to each document. And more significantly, they do not even know if the terms they have used mean exactly what the court will take them to mean. If there is ambiguity or wrong choice of words, your intentions may end up being counterproductive.
When doing digital estate planning on your own, you may cause problems especially when you are in complex family situations like a blended family, having adopted children or minors, etc.
Get it right by speaking with an estate planning attorney
Estate planning is an incredibly beneficial thing to do. It doesn’t have to end badly. But doing estate planning wrongly will do just that: land your surviving loves ones into problems. If you don’t want that to happen, you have to ensure you get your estate plan right.
A professional in the person of an estate planning attorney is in the right position to give you the help you need.
Most people do digital estate planning because of cost savings. They do not want to pay attorney fees, so opt to software.
But the cost of hiring an attorney will be worth it in the long run. An estate planning lawyer can help you save cost by minimizing probate, avoiding estate tax, and facilitating the efficient transfer of assets.
Speak with an estate planning attorney near you today to get the best of estate planning.