Legal documents like wills, trusts, powers of attorney, prenuptial or divorce settlements are complicated. Often, both money and family relationships are at stake.
At the same time, preparing financial planning and legal documents can be costly. You have to hire attorneys and consult with financial experts. That’s why “Do It Yourself” online programs are on the rise – they make estate planning more accessible and cost-efficient for many people.
But when should you embrace automated documentation, and when is it best to stick with tradition?
When Pros and Cons of DIY Estate Planning
DIY programs do serve a purpose – let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks to these digital services.
1. You can save time and money with DIY
The biggest draw to these digital templates are their efficiency and lower costs. Some of the more popular sites, like Nolo’s and US Legal Wills, offer standard templates under $50. Simply place your order and download the necessary document.
If you plan to create a full-fledged will in the next year or two but want to have something in place in the meantime, these options might be a good fit.
2. But you risk missing key information
Even if your estate is small in size and your estate plan is simple, consider hiring an attorney. Some couples divorcing try to “save” money by doing their own representation. Consult with a financial planner before going too far, you may be missing some key information on why you need to seek professional advice.
3. Online programs may be helpful for simple documents
Digital templates offer solutions for a wide variety of legal matters. Need a lease agreement for your rental property? How about a straightforward healthcare directive?
For simple and uncomplicated documents, a DIY form can come in handy.
4. For complex matters, a professional is best
Personalized plans do a better job of protecting your family, especially if you need complex legal documents in your estate plan or through a divorce. It’s a good idea to go ahead and do some research with the DIY forms, but discuss serious matters with a good attorney.
Too many people regret not having a professional review their estate plans when they find a hiccup down the road that was easily avoidable. If you are uncomfortable or don’t understand what is being proposed, find a new attorney or ask your financial advisor.
5. DIY won’t save you money if you have to redo them later on
When drafting legal documents, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and ensure all your bases are covered. If you end up having to redo the documents down the road, the DIY estate planning method only added on to your total cost. A financial professional can help you determine what portions of your estate planning could use a professional touch.
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