Your toilet won’t stop running and it’s driving you nuts. You’re feeling ambitious and instead of calling a plumber, you try to fix it yourself. You can save money, learn something, and maybe get it done more quickly. For similar reasons, many are taking this same do-it-yourself approach to estate planning.
Online forms and software make it easier than ever to create a will, trust, advance directive or power of attorney. Unfortunately, the accessibility of these tools gives consumers a false sense of security. Mistakes in do-it-yourself estate planning are common and the consequences can be huge.
Go back to your leaking toilet. You’re going to fix it or fail. You risk wasting whatever time you put into it, and can call a professional if you make a mistake.
Lawyer jokes aside, estate planning is not like fixing a toilet. The real danger is not from the difference in complexity or difficulty; the difference is when you discover a mistake. If you make a mistake in drafting a will, you will likely never find out. It will be discovered after you die and it will be your loved ones’ problem.
And mistakes happen. Like the millionaire who tried to save money and failed to use his tax exemption. Or the father accidentally leaving $400,000 to his son he tried to disinherit. Or accidentally disinheriting a child. Or thousands of dollars spent by family members on litigation over an ambiguous will.
Hiring a lawyer doesn’t mean you won’t be part of the process. Your attorney will work with you and knows what questions to ask and what pitfalls to avoid. You can make the most out of the process by reading up on estate planning before you meet.
If your goals include making things easier for your loved ones after you’re gone, making sure your wishes are followed, and, yes, even saving money, you should talk to an experienced Maryland estate planning attorney. It’s probably easier and cheaper than you think.
Montefusco Estate Planning, LLC is an estate planning law firm in Frederick, MD. If you are interested in our services, contact us today. This information is written for the context of Maryland estate planning but is not legal advice for anyone. For more information, read our disclaimer.