We all have tried to save money by doing something ourselves instead of paying someone else to do it for us. In many instances this is a great practice; you learn a new skill, save money, and gain confidence. This snowballs into continuing to try DIY projects, save money, and gain confidence. This is especially helpful with a beginner-safe project.
If you have tried DIY projects before, you have probably run into situations where you realized you needed help from a spouse, neighbor, friend, or professional. That is the great aspect about DIY projects, if you aren’t equipped with the knowledge to complete the task, you learn this quickly.
Unfortunately, for DIY Estate Planners, you will never realize you aren’t equipped for the job. The ones learning that lesson will be the loved ones you leave behind after you died. To make matters worse, in many cases the cost of fixing this problem is more expensive than paying the professional to do it for you.
There are great professionals like Dave Ramsey or companies like Nolo and Legalzoom that champion the idea of getting an Estate Plan in place to provide you and your family the protections that they afford. They know it is important, that is why they tell you to do it. They also tell you things like this, “We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.”
As attorneys, we are called counselors-at-law. Which means we counsel people in regards to their legal matters.
If Dave Ramsey, Legalzoom, and NOLO are correct and an Estate Plan is that important, why would I trust such an important decision to a stack of papers I purchased off of the internet with any counsel? I encourage you to search for, not purchase, wills or trust documents online and read them. Do you understand in plain English what the provisions are saying? Do you understand the legal consequence of what the provisions are saying? What if it is missing a provision that would greatly affect your family? Last but not least, unfortunately this is the one I see the most, does the document even meet the minimum standards required by law in the state you live in?
What these websites have done is create an awareness for Estate Planning attorneys, especially when it comes to our pricing. Hypothetically, if our prices are so high that people are willing to risk taking a shot in the dark by doing their own Estate Plan as opposed to seeking our counsel, maybe we should reevaluate our pricing structure. Also, they have provided some much needed education to the general public regarding Estate Planning. The negative consequence is that people without the minimum seven years of post high school education and yearly continuing legal education classes focused solely on legal matters, are making very important legal decisions. They will never know whether their decisions were correct or not.
I invite you to read this commentary about some pitfalls this attorney has seen first hand caused by faults made in a DIY Estate Plan.
Schedule a conversation with Justin Jeppesen to take the first step towards creating your complete estate plan! With our Free Initial Consultation we help our clients explore their own situations and plan for their futures. If you have more questions, we'd love to help! Contact Jeppesen Law now. (208) 477-1785