Woman using laptop and online tools to create estate plan.

Why Shouldn’t I Take Care of My Own Estate Planning with Online Documents?

Now that just about everyone is using the internet to accomplish a multitude of tasks, from shopping to social interaction to finding out the latest news to paying their bills, you might wonder why you shouldn’t do your estate planning online. This may be an especially common question in 2020 when so many people are also working online due to the pandemic. If you’re wondering why you shouldn’t simply download cookie-cutter documents and do your estate planning without professional assistance, consider the following:

How Much Is at Stake When You Plan Your Estate?

If you order the wrong size shirt, you can exchange it through the mail or another delivery service. If you schedule an incorrect bill payment, or mix-up text messages to two different friends, you can clarify these problems quickly and easily. While such online mistakes may be annoying, inconvenient, or even embarrassing, they can be rectified within a short time frame. 

If you make out your will with a significant omission or forget to have it witnessed, however, you may create serious, even devastating, long-term problems for those you love. This is why it is essential to work with a well-respected, competent estate planning law team like OC Wills and Trust Attorneys when it comes to managing your financial affairs.

Your will, trusts, health care proxy, and other essential documents have to be correct if they are to serve to protect yourself and your family in a time of crisis. If you fail to name a successor trustee for a special needs child, for example, and your original trustee dies soon after you, you may leave a vulnerable loved one without a financial guide. If you fail to fill out a healthcare directive, family members who may not know your wishes will decide whether you should be intubated or fed through a feeding tube. Even worse, two family members may argue about what should be done.

All the good intentions in the world will be nullified if you have made a serious mistake in your estate plan — probably the most important do-it-yourself project you will probably ever undertake. It is not worth taking a chance with your future by betting on your ability to accomplish a specialized and intricate task you’ve never done before.

Nothing Replaces Professional Training, Knowledge and Experience

Though you may be an ardent do-it-yourselfer when it comes to fixing a door hinge or retiling the bathroom, hopefully you know enough not to tackle a large plumbing or electrical project. The expertise that comes with extensive training and years of experience is not replaceable by reading a page of instructions on the web. 

Surely you would not be foolish enough to attempt to operate on yourself or a friend after watching a video on the subject (even though you’re adept at wrapping a sprained wrist). In the same way, you shouldn’t be foolish enough to take over the project of planning your financial future and the financial future of your family after seeing a blurb on Google. 

As you know from your own work, not just anyone could take over for you and be successful at your job. Professionals have particular training and qualifications that enable them to perform their duties effectively, efficiently, and correctly. Competent estate planning attorneys like those at not only have studied state and federal law in-depth; they have practiced their trade and have a track record of success. They have testimonials from grateful clients.

You Get What You Pay For

Think of it this way — Would you hire a person of your skill set to plan your estate? Would you be comfortable hanging out a shingle advertising your services? If not, then why in the world would you do your estate planning without the help of a superior estate planning attorney?

What a Talented Estate Planning Can Do for You that the Internet Can’t

There are obvious benefits to being able to ask your attorney questions and discuss the unique features of your property holdings, your family’s specific needs, and your aspirations for the future. In addition, your estate planning lawyer, unlike you, will be able to:

  • Customize your will, altering provisions where necessary without running the risk of invalidating the document
  • Help you avoid probate and estate taxes through gifts, trusts and joint property ownership
  • Understand which legal instruments will serve you best — for example, a charitable legacy or a spendthrift trust
  • Keep you informed about when to update your estate plan due to changes in your circumstances, like a new baby, a divorce or remarriage
  • Keep apprised of all new federal and state laws to make sure your estate plan complies with current statutes

Don’t Let Mistakes Show Up When It Is Too Late to Correct Them

Beyond managing your finances during your lifetime, your estate plan sets the stage for your loved one’s lives after you’re no longer around, or no longer capable of handling financial responsibilities. Because some aspects of your estate plan will kick in when you can no longer provide input, it is crucial that you have the legal counsel of an estate planning attorney who has comprehensive knowledge of which documents will be advantageous in your particular situation, and how to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s to ensure its long-term legitimacy.