The health concerns and extra time at home during the pandemic has caused many Massachusetts residents to realize the importance of creating or updating their estate plan. If you are one of these people and have not created or updated your Estate Plan, you may be tempted to try and draft your own documents. There are many different reasons why Do it yourself “DIY” Wills are a bad Idea, and you should turn to a professional, like the estate planning attorneys at the Martino Law Group, LLC to help you draft your will.
What is a DIY estate plan?
A DIY (“do-it-yourself”) estate plan is created without the advice of an estate planning attorney. Someone who DIY’s their own legal documents could be:
- Handwriting a “will” themselves;
- Downloading a “fill in the blank” document that they got on the internet; or
- Using an online document generator that asks pre-set questions.
Here are the top 5 reasons why a “DIY” Will is a bad idea:
- DIY Estate Plans may not conform to Massachusetts law: Forms and templates found on the internet may say they conform, but how will you know if its true? Every state has its own laws that apply to estate plans and if the wrong format is used, your estate plan can fail. Also, there are certain considerations that need to be made for everyone’s circumstances that may not be addressed with a “one size fits all” form/template.
- DIY Estate Plans could contain inaccurate, incomplete, or contradictory information: Using a program or online template usually involves answering some sort of questionnaire from which the document is created. You may select the wrong option or leave out pertinent information or insert information that contradicts something in the form/template.
- DIY Estate Plans do not account for changes down the road: Let’s say you create a will leaving everything to your two children, then one child predeceases you. What happens to their share of your estate? Does it all go to the remaining child? Does it go to any heirs of the deceased child? Should a Trust be created to protect the assets? What if there is a way to reduce any possible estate taxes? None of these questions will be addressed in A DIY Estate Plan.
- DIY Estate Plans are easy to execute incorrectly: Without an experienced estate planning attorney, you will not have the comfort of knowing that your estate plan was executed correctly. Massachusetts has specific requirements for creating a valid will and other estate planning documents, such as requiring two disinterested witness signatures, that the person signing a will must attest in writing that they are doing so of a sound mind and are willfully signing as their own free act. This differs from state to state and from one estate planning document to another. The experienced estate planning attorneys at the Martino Law Group, LLC, will ensure that you have a valid estate plan and take that worry off your shoulders.
- DIY Estate Plans may mistakenly leave assets out of your estate plan: When you hire a professional to create your estate plan, you get their knowledge and expertise to create the best estate plan that fits your situation using all the different tools available. Many people do not realize that a trust is frequently a better estate planning tool than a will as it avoids the probate process altogether saving our clients time and money. While some DIY Estate Plans may allow the creation of trusts, they often do not inform you how to actually fund those trusts by transferring property into them, making the DIY trusts useless.
We Can Help
The only thing worse than not having an estate plan is having the false sense of security of having one that turns out to be invalid or ineffective because a DIY Will was used. Your loved ones must now go through the expensive and time-consuming probate process and your wishes and intentions may not be followed.
Avoid the uncertainty and be sure to take care of those you love. Call the experienced estate planning attorneys at Martino Law Group, LLC, today so we can help provide you and your family with the peace of mind of knowing you have a professionally created comprehensive estate plan that accomplishes your goals and attorneys available to address your specific concerns now and in the future.