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Avoid a Costly Mistake of a D.I.Y. Will or Estate Plan

Estate Planning Law firm in Boerne, Texas
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The ready availability and low cost of online services that create a Last Will and Testament, Trust, and other legal documents may make it tempting to bypass talking face-to-face with a lawyer about your estate plan.   An important objective of estate planning is to give you the peace of mind that you have taken care of your family in the future. But ask yourself:  how can you have peace of mind if you don’t really know whether your DIY estate plan accomplishes what you think it does?

Estate Planning Requires Knowledge of Texas Estate Laws.

The State laws that govern everything about estates, from requirements for a Will or power of attorney, to distribution of an estate after someone passes away can be extremely complicated. If you don’t know those laws or understand how they apply to the documents you create, you can’t be sure that your self-made documents accomplish your goals now and in the future.  When you consult with an estate planning attorney, your attorney’s responsibilities include making certain that your estate plan takes state laws into account and accomplishes exactly what you want and need it to achieve.

How Does an Estate Planning Lawyer Create an Estate Plan?

If you decide to skip an in-person discussion with a lawyer you may not choose the right or best documents to achieve your goals. Errors, omissions, and inaccurate or incomplete information may change the meaning of your documents or even nullify them.

When you talk with an experienced estate planning attorney, your attorney gathers detailed information from you about your financial and other assets. Your lawyer also talks with you at length about your personal and financial goals and needs, as well as those of your family, now and in the future. Your lawyer asks follow up questions based on the information you provide, to ensure that your estate plan fully reflects your circumstances and your family. Then, your attorney creates documents that specifically address your individual situation, taking applicable laws into account.

Read the Disclaimers of DIY the Estate Planning Site.

If all that doesn’t convince you to talk in person with a lawyer about your estate plan, read the disclaimers that online services use. The hard-to-find disclaimers on the site may include the following statements:

  • The site is not a law firm, nor is it a substitute for a law firm or attorney.
  • The site is not able to provide any type of opinion, advice, guidance on legal rights, form selection, choices, or approach.
  • Your communications with the site are not protected by attorney-client privilege.
  • You agree to the site’s Terms of Use, provided in a link.

Clearly, these sites are not a substitute for consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney who will focus their opinion, advice, and guidance about creating an estate plan on your unique needs and goals. Moreover, your discussions with your estate planning attorney are always protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Beware of Uncertainties Causing Family Conflicts.

Finally, using a DIY service to create your estate plan may give rise to uncertainties and questions after your death. The potential for family disputes, legal problems, and court involvement is real.  In a situation where estate documents create uncertainties or questions, including about validity of the documents, family disagreements could very   likely arise.  Ultimately, the only way to resolve the problems conclusively is for one of the family members to file a lawsuit in court.  Contested Wills and estates lead to time-consuming and expensive probate litigation. Court costs and attorney’s fees can deplete or even fully exhaust estate assets. However, the negative effect does not stop there. Court actions that pit one family member against another often destroy family bonds and relationships.

DIY Estate Planning Is Not Worth the Risks.

If you’re considering using an online service to make your estate plan,  please talk with a local estate planning attorney before you make a final decision.   We are available at McCammon Law and offer an initial free consultation to see whether our services are a good fit for your needs.   Call us at 830-251-2115 or go on line to to make contact via our website.

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