The Internet is full of websites that sell downloads and worksheets that will produce generic legal documents. They offer legal documents of all kinds, including things like wills and trusts.
Can anyone with a computer create an effective estate plan using DIY tools that are being offered online?
Consumer Reports Study
The highly respected magazine Consumer Reports was wondering about this question back in 2012. They decided to find an answer.
Consumer Reports staffers went online, and they identified three of the most popular purveyors of do-it-yourself legal documents. They created last wills using downloads and worksheets that they got from these three websites.
Three prominent legal professors were engaged to examine these do-it-yourself last wills. They came away with some rather telling criticisms. Ultimately, they said that unintended negative consequences could come about if the average layperson was to use one of these do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions to create a last will.
In the end, Consumer Reports advised readers to steer clear of DIY estate planning notions, unless you were attempting to achieve something that is extraordinarily simple.
Even if you were simply trying to leave everything to your spouse, would you necessarily want to use a last will to do so? Are you exposed to the estate tax? Would you like to put certain controls in place? Do you have children from a previous marriage that you would like to protect? Does your spouse have the skills to manage the estate? Does he or she have a disability or some form of dementia?
The point is, a last will may not be the option that serves you best, even if you want to leave everything to your spouse at first.
There is also the matter of incapacity planning. Who would manage your affairs in the event of your incapacitation? You can’t account for this in a last will that you download off the Internet. To name your own hand-picked decision-makers, you would want to execute durable powers of attorney. You can also account for possible incapacity through the creation of a revocable living trust.
The Dangers of DIY Wills and Trusts
If you would like to learn more about the dangers of DIY wills and trusts, please get our free report that puts the subject under scrutiny. It is in the Reports section of this website.
If It Sounds Too Good to Be True…
Arranging for the transfer of everything you have accumulated during your life to your loved ones is an important process. Some DIY projects are great, such as house painting, and gardening, but you have to know where to draw the line.