Dangers Associated With DIY Estate Planning Versus Working With an Attorney

You’ve found a DIY estate planning kit on the internet, so you decide to give it a shot. It’s free, and that certainly seems to beat paying a Wilmington estate planning attorney to do the job. Watch out, though; that kit might be free, but it can cost you down the road. 

Read on to learn about the pitfalls you might run into if you opt to try estate planning lawyer-free.

Why DIY Estate Planning Isn’t a Smart Move

Estate planning is far more complex than you might think. It might work if you’re lucky, but if not, it could spell serious trouble for your beneficiaries. 

Here’s why.

Your Estate Plan Needs More Than Just a Will

Many people think that all they need is a last will and testament, and they’re good to go. But a rock-solid estate plan includes much more than just a will. 

Depending on your needs, your will should include the following:

  • A list of beneficiaries and assets you want to give them after you pass away
  • A guardian for living dependents
  • An executor to oversee estate administration
  • A durable power of attorney to oversee investments and assets
  • An advance healthcare directive that spells out your wishes for medical treatment if you’re incapacitated
  • Funeral and burial arrangements

The majority of DIY estate planning kits are very simple. They allow you to set up a will and nothing more. If all you have is a will, you can run into problems like these:

  • Your children might end up with a guardian you wouldn’t have chosen for them.
  • The court will have to choose an executor on your behalf.
  • Your family won’t know your funeral and burial wishes.
  • A hospital might give you treatment that you don’t want.

Your Estate Plan Might Be Out of Date

If you draft an estate plan when you’re 25 years old and never change it, that plan will likely be incredibly out of date by the time you reach retirement age. You may have birthed children, gotten married, divorced, and so on. It’s important to update your estate plan after major life events like these. 

Here are a few examples to illustrate why not updating your estate plan could become problematic.

  • Jenny makes her estate plan after having her first child. Five years later, she has another child but fails to update her estate plan afterward. When she dies, the second child isn’t listed as a beneficiary on her plan.
  • Harold’s estate plan says that his wife will inherit his retirement account when he dies. He then divorces his first wife and remarries another woman without changing his plan. When he passes on, his ex-wife inherits the retirement account, not his current spouse.

Your Estate Plan May Be Invalid

Did you know that estate planning laws vary by state? If you don’t set up your plan as required by law where you live, it might be invalid. If so, your loved ones could have an unwelcome surprise waiting for them when you pass on.

Why Work With an Estate Planning Lawyer in Wilmington?

It’s far smarter to hire a Wilmington estate planning attorney. Here’s what an estate planning lawyer can do for you.

Provide Personalized Advice

Doing your own estate planning using a kit is rather generic. They don’t take into account complexities, such as: 

  • Blended families
  • Business ownership
  • Complicated asset portfolios

A Wilmington estate planning law firm can help you address challenges like these. Your lawyer will make sure that nothing is left out of your estate plan.

Ensure That Your Plan Is Valid

Estate planning lawyers know the laws in your state. Your Wilmington estate planner will ensure that your plan is valid so your loved ones don’t run into costly headaches when you pass on.

Save Your Loved Ones Money

You may not be aware that in North Carolina, estates valued at more than $20,000 ($30,000 for married couples) must go through probate. Not only is probate time-consuming, but it can also cost your loved ones a lot of money.

Estate planning lawyers know several tricks that can help your family avoid probate. For instance, you can set up a living trust or joint ownership of property.

Update Your Plan To Reflect Life Changes

Your life situation probably won’t stay the same forever. A Wilmington will and trust attorney can update your estate plan to ensure that it reflects your current situation and wishes.

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Near Me

DIY estate planning may be cheap or free, but it comes with many drawbacks. If you want an up-to-date, legally valid estate plan, it’s wise to work with a Wilmington estate planning attorney.

To book estate planning services in Wilmington, contact David E. Anderson, PLLC, at (910) 889-1745.

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