Pitfalls of Texas DIY Estate Plans

As more people become interested in drafting estate plans—recognizing the inherent benefits to planning ahead—they wonder whether they can do it themselves. This approach—called DIY estate planning—is when people utilize websites and books to draft their own Houston estate plan. While this may appear to be a more cost-effective and quicker solution, there are major drawbacks to DIY estate plans that Texans might not realize at first. Below are some aspects to consider when deciding whether to draft a DIY estate plan or to work with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney throughout the process.

Why an Estate Plan is Not So “Simple”

Many individuals starting the estate planning process assume it will be simple: they only need a basic will, detailing who will receive their assets and belongings when they pass away. However, it is rarely that easy. Websites may be effective for filling out a generic form, but then people do not know what else, if anything, should be included in the estate plan. Not only are most Texans unaware of the other critical aspects of an estate plan—such as tax planning, financial planning, and senior care—but they assume a will can be a page or two long without getting into the details. Estate planning attorneys go beyond creating a will: they help people create healthcare documents—so doctors know what to do with end-of-life care—and financial planning documents so loved ones are secure in their future finances. This goes above what a DIY website can provide.

Additionally, families may not realize the special issues or circumstances they have that should be included as part of their estate plan. These special circumstances may include having a disabled child that may require additional assets to use in the future or property that is owned and shared by a group of people. Using a DIY website may include a list of some of these special circumstances, but they do not provide the care or precision to actually help families who will revise their estate plan to reflect these situations. On the other hand, an estate planning attorney will listen to a person’s individualized goals and priorities and draft an estate plan that fits their unique needs, not a list off of the internet.

What is the Cost Differential Between DIY Estate Plan and Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney?

Hiring an estate planning attorney may cost more than utilizing a free DIY website; however, the consequences of drafting a faulty estate plan are much higher. After a person passes, if their estate plan is found to be drafted improperly, the loved ones may need to court and litigate what the actual intentions of the person were and fight to receive any of the assets in the estate plan. All of these worries can be resolved by going to an estate planning attorney in the first place.

Because estate plans have such high stakes—especially if done improperly—Texans beginning the estate planning process should contact an experienced estate planning attorney to assist them and ensure their will is properly constructed.

Contact a Texas Estate Planning Attorney

If you or a loved one needs help fixing a DIY estate plan—or wants to work with an attorney from the start of the process—contact the Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. With years of experience drafting a wide array of estate plans, our knowledgeable attorneys will create an estate plan unique to you and your family’s needs. Additionally, we represent clients in a variety of elder law matters. To schedule a free consultation and to speak with one of our lawyers, give us a call today at 713-333-8900.

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