Admittedly, one of the reasons that many people fail to do any estate planning is due to the cost. Many New York residents who still want to make a will plan to do so on their own. Do-it-yourself forms may come with a low up-front price, but, according to the old saying, "you get what you pay for."
When it comes to DIY estate planning documents, that saying certainly applies. Low cost forms often result in inadequate documents that fail to stand up in court upon death, and it is surviving family members who pay the price as they go through an often time-consuming and expensive probate that diminishes the assets of the estate, and, therefore, any inheritance they may receive.
What's wrong with DIY forms?
Before you purchase a set of estate planning forms from a vendor on the internet, consider the following:
- No one form can account for all of your needs and wishes when it comes to passing on your property after your death. Just as you are unique, your estate planning needs are as well.
- Even though the forms are purposely generic, they often do not adhere to New York law as they should. For instance, laws regarding a surviving spouse's elective share can vary widely from state to state. Homestead rights, descendant definitions and other legalities for every state simply can't fit into one DIY form.
- If you read the fine print on the forms, you may find that the vendor recommends that you consult with an attorney since the information provided can't take the place of legal advice from an experienced estate-planning attorney.
There may be instances where you can take a DIY approach and be fine, but your will and other estate planning documents probably isn't one of them.
Getting it right
How exactly do you want to provide for your loved ones after your death? Do you have minor children? Do you own multiple properties? Perhaps one of your children just isn't financially savvy and you worry that he or she will not receive the maximum benefit from an inheritance. These and other considerations may require more than just a simple will.
In order to create the best possible estate plan that best represents your wishes and goals, you may need help. You may have several chances to get it right while you are alive, but no one knows when they will pass away, and if you settle for documents that are only "okay," what will that mean for your family?