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Elder Law and Estate Planning Blog - Lancaster, PA

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Dangers of DIY Wills

Do-it-yourself wills are becoming increasingly popular as a cheap way to create an estate plan.  The number of online and DIY legal providers is continuing to grow, and their seductive ads draw people in.  Additionally, people think their estates aren’t complicated so filling out a simple form will take care of everything.
Unfortunately, these DIY wills don’t take into account the complexities of life.  Issues like step families and divorces, as well as planning for contingencies (that is, what would happen if one of your beneficiaries dies before you) need to be carefully considered.  DIY wills never go that far, often leading to nightmare scenarios for the executors and attorneys handling the estate years later.
Most professionals know that DIY estate plans are dangerous, and that a single mistake can cause complications that only come to light after the person has died.  The person is no longer there to explain his or her wishes, so all the heirs have to go by is the will.  A will written incorrectly, even so much as using a word in the wrong place, can leave heirs disappointed and confused, and they could end up paying much more to lawyers as they try to sort things out, more than having a will written initially would have costed.
If you do decide to use a DIY will, you should have it reviewed by a local attorney.  Since the laws are different in every state, you don’t know what may work on your DIY will in one state but cause huge problems where you live.  Almost every time a lawyer does a review of a DIY will, he or she finds an error somewhere on the form.
And if you are worried about the costs of estate planning, let your attorney know in the first place.  We are always willing to work with a client to keep the costs as low as possible.

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