Naperville Estate Planning Lawyer Talks About the Risks of Do-It-Yourself Wills and Estate Plans
While the internet has been around in some form since the late 1960s, its expansion in the last three decades has literally changed the world. Today, almost every part of our lives is or can be connected to the internet, including our education systems and even our household appliances.
In my practice as an attorney, I have also witnessed how the internet affects people’s approach to various areas of the law, including their concerns regarding estate planning. Currently, hundreds—and possibly thousands—of websites purport to offer advice on estate planning as well as a range of standard forms that a person could use create the various elements of an estate plan. Some such sites insist that they can help people develop rather complicated plans without the need to hire a lawyer. The real question, however, is whether or not online, do-it-yourself estate planning is a good choice.
Understanding Your Situation
Most DIY estate planning sites—much like other websites that offer DIY legal services—provide users with simple checklists and basic descriptions of some of the most common estate planning instruments. It is your responsibility to choose the tools that best suit your situation. The problem with this approach is that the average person might not actually understand his or her situation, and an online questionnaire is unlike to provide the type of guidance that is necessary.
When a qualified estate planning lawyer is part of your team, he or she will help you analyze your current circumstances and how they are likely to change as the years go by. Your lawyer can also recommend various estate planning tools and strategies that will address your unique concerns.
Simple Concerns and Complex Matters
To be completely honest, there are some aspects of estate planning that could be set up through a DIY website without substantial risk. For example, you could probably draft a reasonable living will or a health care power of attorney using an online service. In Illinois, these documents are not particularly complicated, and each has a recommended form provided in Illinois law.
When you are creating a will, however, or establishing any type of trust, there are infinitely more variables, and a seemingly small error could be devastating. Without proper guidance, you could unintentionally cost your estate and your beneficiaries a substantial amount of money, not to mention the time, energy, and stress involved that is often associated with such mistakes.
A lawyer is especially important in situations that concern family members with special needs, large estates, complex investments, and business interests. There is no way for DIY estate planning websites to account for such considerations properly, as they cannot offer the direction and customization that you are likely to need.
A DuPage County Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
If you are considering a DIY website to help you develop an estate plan, we encourage you to discuss your situation with one of our experienced Naperville estate planning lawyers before making any decisions. Call 630-756-1160 to schedule a confidential consultation at the Gierach Law Firm.