Disadvantages of do-it-yourself estate planning

People in Georgia who do not have a will or other estate planning documents may wonder whether they should simply use an online do-it-yourself service. While these services are low in cost, they also come with a number of disadvantages.

A do-it-yourself site cannot provide the guidance and access to knowledge that working with an attorney can. Unlike errors on other types of paperwork, if there is a small mistake on estate planning documents that invalidates them, this usually comes to light only after the person has died. Therefore, it is not possible to make corrections.

Another problem with a DIY approach is that most people do not know what questions they need to ask. For example, some people might think they only need a will, but powers of attorney for health care and finances are also important to protect individuals in case they become incapacitated. Further confusing the issue is the that DIY sites use various names for the main estate planning documents. Not all the sites are as complete or clear as they need to be. If they offer attorney consultations, they may be limited. For all but the simplest estates, DIY sites may not meet a person's estate planning needs.

One example of the type of guidance that these sites usually do not provide concerns trust planning. Many people think of trusts as something that wealthy people use to pass their money down to their children, but they also have many other uses. For example, on a DIY site, a person might not realize that there is something known as a special needs trust that can help provide for a loved one without endangering that person's access to benefits. There are many other details regarding state law, probate and estate planning that may not be addressed.

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