Why DIY estate planning may not be a great idea

Maybe you’re one of those people who’s always wanted to tackle projects on your own. Cooking. Plumbing. Carpentry. Minor electronics. If there was time and a manual, you were always confident you could fix things yourself. And it was gratifying, too. It feels good to master a new task.

Accordingly, as you look at estate planning, you might have thought about doing some internet research, checking out some forms and cutting out the lawyer. For some people, this may work. DIY estate planning may even work for you. But there are also plenty of ways you may end up shorting yourself in the long run. Here are four of the better reasons to work with an experienced lawyer.

They can help you see the big picture

Every estate plan is different, but there’s often more at play than drafting a will. There’s a wide array of different tools, and they can be used in different ways. How you piece things together all depends on your goals, and many people won’t fully understand their goals until they realize what they can and cannot do. Experienced attorneys can help you understand what’s possible and what’s not. Then they can help you identify the tools and techniques to best achieve those goals.

They understand the hidden values of assets

There are differences among your assets that go beyond their monetary value. Some are more permanent than others. Some are more liquid. Or have larger tax consequences. It can be a big mistake to treat these assets alike based solely on their monetary values at a single point in time. An attorney can help you better judge what they’ll be worth to people once they’ve been distributed.

They know the law

If you’re trying to Google your way to success, you might end up creating an estate plan that doesn’t hold up in court. Even if you write a good plan, it might not be great. Attorneys who focus on estate planning will keep up with the latest developments and how changes to the law allow things like 529 college-savings plans to serve as estate planning tools. You might be able to learn these things yourself, but it takes time. And time is money.

You only get one chance to do it right

You can update your estate plan as much as you want while you’re alive, but you won’t be around to make corrections at the time they may be needed. An experienced attorney can help you avoid mistakes and may vouch to your intent in case of a dispute. You likely wouldn’t DIY your own dental work. Some work deserves professional attention.