Caution: Do-It-Yourself Wills
By Jeremy A. Wechsler, Esq.
Your Estate Planning Attorney
Is it a good idea to write your own will? I always say, what you put into something is what you will get out of it. If you want a sound estate plan that protects your legacy, you need to work with a professional who has experience in dealing with many different situations. A will is only a starting point for estate planning and a poorly written will can be detrimental to your legacy.
My clients tell me that they place significant value on knowing that they have a trusted legal advisor that has taken the time to learn about their needs, their goals, and the unique aspects of their lives. They walk out of my office with peace of mind because they know their plan was crafted and discussed with their input and individual concerns throughout the process. They also know that I have experience in estate planning matters so they feel comfortable knowing their plan will work for them.
When I hear about do-it-yourself estate planning, I can’t help but get nervous for the folks that use those products. Here’s what concerns me about folks writing their own will:
1. Failure to Implement Asset Protection: 95% of the time, I am building some sort of asset protection plan for the beneficiaries of my clients. I want to make sure the client’s kids or grandkids are protected from themselves and others, including their creditors, spouses (or ex-spouses), business partners, legal judgments, etc. I can assure you that you cannot design a one-size fits all form for an asset protection plan, which is more important than ever today.
2. Failure to Create Long-Term Care Plan: A will does distribute your assets upon your death, but more and more people are dealing with estate planning issues while they’re living. Particularly, long-term care is a major concern for many of our clients today. The use of advanced trusts and insurance tools are often solutions for many clients that want to preserve a portion of their estate for their loved ones no matter if they need long-term care.
3. False Sense of Protection: Doing it yourself and convincing yourself you only need the “simple will” may give you a false sense of protection, when in fact your situation is more complex. Complexities such as second marriages, children with financial issues, real estate under water, uncertain financial future and family conflicts. These issues are best dealt with while you are still alive.
4. Legal Issues & Conflicts: If you do it yourself, you may inadvertently create a conflicting legal clause, omit an important section, or make another major error. Work with a trusted advisor that knows what you need. Would you pull your own tooth? Do surgery on yourself? Estate planning and asset preservation is best done with the help of a professional.
You may save a few bucks by “doing it yourself” but in the long run, it may cause more trouble for you and your family. Spend the time to work with an attorney and get that peace of mind knowing you have a complete plan.
For a complimentary review of your plan, contact me immediately at (215) 706-0200 to get on my calendar.