Any time you are going to execute a legally binding document, you would do well to speak with a lawyer. This can seem like an overstatement of the obvious, and for many years, it certainly was. However, now that we are all plugged into the Internet, you see websites that sell generic, boilerplate legal documents. They often contend that a lawyer is really not necessary.
Is this the truth? For an answer, you may want to look at some research that was conducted by the highly respected magazine Consumer Reports back in 2012. They decided to look into the subject, and they got three of their staffers to use online tools that were provided by three of the major purveyors of generic legal documents. The researchers created three different last wills.
The magazine researchers wanted independent experts to examine the wills to see if they were in fact valid. There were no particular expectations. For all they knew, the wills would be perfectly acceptable. The point was to find out the true facts so that they could inform the public.
They managed to engage three prominent legal professors who were affiliated with three highly respected academic institutions. These legal professors examined the last wills that were created using the boilerplate templates.
Ultimately, they found flaws in the documents. They stated that unintended negative consequences could come about if you were to go it alone using these downloads and worksheets.
After hearing all of the feedback from the legal professors, Consumer Reports came to the conclusion that do-it-yourself estate planning was not a good idea, unless the estate in question was extraordinarily simple.
There is another facet to this equation. We have established the fact that Consumer Reports has recommended against do-it-yourself last wills. However, as a layperson, are you sure that a last will is the right estate planning documents for you?
Under many circumstances, a trust of some kind would be a better choice. There are trusts that can provide estate tax efficiency, and there are asset protection trusts. You could use a trust to help out a loved one with a disability without causing a loss of need-based government benefits.
Trusts can be used to provide spendthrift protections, and there are trusts that can help you qualify for Medicaid to pay for long-term care.
As you can see, when you try to take things into your own hands, you may wind up making uninformed decisions that negatively impact your loved ones after you are gone.
Schedule a Free Consultation
If DIY estate planning sounds like it is a bit risky, you may want to discuss your estate planning objectives with a licensed professional. Our firm can help if you want to take action. We offer free consultations, and you can contact us through this page to set up an appointment: Hartford CT Estate Planning Lawyers.