Why DIY Estate Planning is Usually a Bad Idea

By Chris Tymchuck
Founding Attorney

Q: Should I hire an attorney to do my estate plan?

With a law practice named Unique Estate Planning, what do you think the answer will be?

Seriously though, trying to do your own Minnesota estate planning is just asking for trouble. An estate plan is far more than a piece of paper that leaves your best friend your bike. It requires real planning. And legal knowledge. Guardians for children. Wills or trusts? Tax issues. The list goes on. Could you really be comfortable relying on a canned internet form? Would you sleep at night or wonder if you’ve done yourself and your family a disservice?

Sure, we’d all be lost without the Internet. It allows us to look up and access information in an instant and gives us video tutorials on how to remove a splinter, unjam the printer, and other helpful information.

But you can’t always trust Internet advice and following it can actually worsen a situation. Then, when things go horribly wrong, what will you do? The key is knowing when it’s time to trust a professional.  And in virtually all medical and legal matters, it’s safest to trust those who’ve been highly-trained and educated in the profession. In the case of a DIY Last Will, you may be gone before the damage is noticed or can be undone and your family could be vulnerable.

Not only do laws differ from state to state, and constantly change, but every person’s family and financial situation is… unique… and only an experienced estate planning attorney can prepare a comprehensive plan that will accomplish the client’s wishes and provide best for the future of their family after they are gone. It’s the attorney’s job to ask all the right questions, see the possible “red flags” of a future will contest, and gather all the necessary financial and other information to craft a proper plan. There are tax considerations, Medicaid planning, special needs trusts and (even pet trusts) that might need consideration. LGBT families also have unique estate planning needs.

A single online form could be disastrous.

Not only that, but a will drafted by an attorney generally stands a better chance of being upheld in the event of a will contest down the line than a do-it-yourself form. There is a misconception that an estate plan has to be expensive, but a DIY will has the potential of being far, far costlier. So, unless it’s midnight on the night before you’re flying off on couple’s vacation and you’re desperate to have “something” in writing as a temporary fix–so your kids don’t end up being raised by your in-laws– make an appointment with a skilled estate planning lawyer and skip the canned form.

People are often initially uncomfortable with the idea of estate planning because it forces them to face their inevitable death or possible disability, but most report having great peace of mind once it’s done–knowing their wishes will be followed and that they’ve properly provided for their family’s future.

If you are interested in preparing an estate plan, or have an existing plan that needs to be revised, step away from the computer and let Unique Estate Law help. Contact us for a free consultation. With offices in Bloomington and Minneapolis, we represent clients throughout Minnesota.

About the Author
As a Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate attorney I help build and protect families through the adoption, estate planning, and probate processes. I also have experience working with families on issues related to their small businesses. I know how difficult it is to find time to plan for the future and I am here to help walk you through it.