Do It Yourself Estate Planning

DIY is everywhere! It is practically a buzzword that has infiltrated our everyday vocabulary. Doing it yourself can be fun and fulfilling, however, not all things should be done on your own. Some things are too important to leave to an unskilled person. Estate Planning is one of those things that should not be attempted on your own.

Most people miss out on important tax and money saving strategies when they draft their own documents through software companies like LegalZoom or Quicken Lawyer. Also, these software companies use boiler plate documents. There is no one size fits all where Estate Planning is concerned.

Worse, some people try to write their own Will, Deeds, and Powers of Attorney. Often times, documents drafted by a layperson end up in a lawsuit, not distributed as the person hoped, or even invalid when the document is needed. Occasionally, we see clients who have attempted their own planning. Oftentimes, it costs clients far more money for us to fix their mistakes than if they had obtained professional advice at the outset. Recently, a well-educated client of ours created his own trust, deed, and will. Unfortunately, all of his documents were copied from a bad template. Our client’s Will left his property in trust at death. However, his family was unable to find his trust, which rendered his Will useless. The daughter of this do-it-yourself “lawyer” was another do-it-yourselfer; like Father, like daughter. She attempted to transfer his property to herself with his “home-made” power of attorney. Unfortunately, her father’s power of attorney did not allow her to make these types of transfers. This rendered them ineffective, resulting in the need for an intestate probate of his property (the process used for those who die without a will). This example illustrates the importance of seeking good legal advice in lieu of attempting your own estate planning.

Today, people have diverse circumstances. As a result, simple documents are not right for everyone, especially seniors. If you or your loved ones need assistance with your planning, consider W.G. Alexander & Associates – we are experienced attorneys who offer a unique blend of asset protection, Elderlaw and estate planning. You can also attend our free seminars, learn more through our website at, or call us at (919) 256-7000.