DIY Estate Plans in Cary, North Carolina
I Can Do My Estate Plan Documents Myself, Right?
Do I Need an Attorney to Make My Estate Plan Documents?
Yes, you can create and execute your estate plan documents yourself. In fact, there are many online legal services that are happy to charge you much less for generic documents. Surprisingly, with some ingenuity and resourcefulness, you can probably find "fill-in-the-blank" forms online too. If you lack this, there are some pro bono or very low-cost options too.
Online forms and online legal services are typically generic, "boilerplate" provisions, and not customized to your unique situation. You may not feel unique but not 2 people are the same, and certainly, each family is different. The lack of customized plans and documents can fall short of efficiently achieving your goals.
The satisfaction of DIY'ers is strong. In fact, I like to do everything I can myself. Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way the limitations of my DIY capacity. I recently learned this by trying to repair my garage door. Thankfully I survived without injuries, but I learned some things are best left to the professionals who deal with them daily.
A temptation or incentive to make a DIY estate plan derives from readily available information online and cost savings. I believe the biggest reason for DIY work is to save money and convenience. It's always cheaper, especially in the short term, to employ yourself and it is certainly more convenient to schedule yourself. And with the proliferation of the internet, it seems like you can almost find an article and video on anything and everything these days. Someone has posted something to explain or goes over just about any topic you can think of. And just about everyone has instant access to these online resources. Because of this, some people believe a DIY estate plan is a way to go.
If you decide that is the route for you, please be aware of a few things.
The difficulty in doing a DIY estate plan is knowing which online resource is reliable and actually works. While the internet is full of lots of information and is a free-speech space, for the most part. If you've ever priced shopped you know you typically get what you pay for. Many people don't buy the cheapest or the most expensive. But no one knows if their purchase has value until they get it and use it. The cheap stuff usually never works or breaks immediately. You'll never know if your DIY estate plan worked because you won't be here to witness it. However, your family will!
Just like fixing your home's electrical issues yourself, instead of hiring a licensed electrician, you can create and execute your own estate plans without an attorney. And the biggest problem with a DIY estate plan is you'll never know if it works until it's too late. Unlike the DIY electrician who will see the power not work or witness the fire, a DIY estate plan will be incapacitated or dead before knowing whether or not it worked. For some people who could care less about what is left behind, nearly everyone cares enough to get "their affairs in order" to not leave behind a mess.
I have seen "fill in the blank" forms used on a few occasions for estate plans. The most common problem with them is the DIY documents are either not clear and contain ambiguity that causes significant issues for the beneficiaries or worse, the document is not valid at all because it was either not signed by the person or not signed under valid conditions. The law prescribes very specific ways to execute documents. Failure to follow the legal prescription is often catastrophic. Another issue I find with most DIY estate planning documents is that the documents do things differently, and sometimes contrary, to the actual wishes and desires of the person. The old saying "the devil's in the detail" is applicable. What is clear to the DIY'er is not necessarily clear to the survivors.
Because information and advertisements are so readily available, it is hard to know who to trust online. Reviews and recommendations distinguish options and inform you who has been happy with their purchase.
Other pitfalls include using forms, whether free, inexpensive or from online, that is outdated. The internet possessions a lot of information but it does not take down outdated information on its own and it certainly does not notify you if you downloaded old information nor does it send you an update when the information changes or became outdated.
Professionals and experts deal with their skilled trade on a daily basis. When you are not a professional or expert, you may get it right, but you may not. And the difficulty with estate planning is you don't know what you don't know.
Getting accurate and reliable information is the first step in putting together the right estate plan. This information is best provided during a meeting with a North Carolina licensed estate planning attorney.
The value an estate planning attorney provides is tremendous and can be priceless. The investment to plan and prepare an estate can save thousands and thousands later. The peace of mind and the ability to sleep is priceless. My favorite experience was with a blended family where the wife told me that after our first meeting she slept through the night for the first time in years because she learned from me that everything can be set up exactly how she wanted to protect her family. She knew she needed something and didn't have it, which kept it up every night.
It is such a blessing to provide legal information, services, and counsel to improve and strengthen families so they have a better quality of life.
Palmer Estate Planning offers complimentary consultations, quick document revisions, and complimentary legal updates so all our clients have up-to-date information readily accessible, current documents, and notifications of legal changes that could impact their plan or documents.