Do-it-yourself estate planning can leave an ugly mess.
There are people who prefer to tackle projects on their own.
For some, this is born from necessity.
For others, curiosity or personal growth is the driving force.
Perhaps you are someone who prefers do-it-yourself projects.
Whether you learn how to tackle a project from your parent or a YouTube channel video, you find satisfaction in the challenge.
I get that.
According to a recent US News & World Report article titled “Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning Mistakes,” estate planning does not make for a good DIY challenge.
Perhaps you have seen pictures of “Pinterest fails”?
While nightmarish cupcakes can be funny and relatively harmless, a disastrous estate plan has lasting consequences.
Why is working with an experienced estate planning attorney necessary.
Your attorney will ask the right questions.
Some aspects of estate planning seem deceptively simple.
Filling out a beneficiary designation on an IRA is pretty straightforward.
Even so, it may prove problematic if the right questions are not considered?
How does your choice align with your estate planning goals?
Will your plan have negative tax consequences or cause conflict in probate?
Could you unintentionally disinherit your grandchildren if their parent (your child) predeceases you?
If you attempt do-it-yourself estate planning, you may miss key considerations.
Your attorney can assess the complexity of your situation.
Do you have property or assets in multiple states or different countries?
Do you have a a blended family or a child with special needs?
If yes, your estate plan will need to address these issues.
Because many not-necessarily-obvious issues are interrelated, your estate planning attorney will be able to create a compressive plan to address them in the best way to meet your relational, tax, and financial planning needs.
A template do-it-yourself plan may be grossly insufficient.
You attorney will know state laws.
Estate planning is governed by both federal and state laws.
Understanding tax law in each state is especially important because 17 states plus Washington D.C. levy inheritance taxes, estate taxes, or both.
Fortunately, Kansas and Missouri do not have such taxes!
Property titling is also significantly influenced by state law.
Even if you know the applicable laws at the time you create a do-it-yourself estate plan, laws change.
If you fail to make updates in accordance with these changes, your plan will be ineffective.
Although hiring an experienced estate planning attorney will cost you money upfront, you will be saving your loved ones stress and time in cleaning up a potentially huge mess after you are gone.
Reference: US News & World Report (Dec. 18, 2020) “Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning Mistakes”