Internet services that purport to handle estate planning are proliferating. Unfortunately, they may provide a false sense of security.
The first problem with them is actually taking action. An estate plan does not come into being by signing up on a website, yet too many people fail to complete the process to which they have subscribed.
A more significant problem is that internet-based templates frequently are not designed to adequately address the needs of the subscriber or their family. People rarely present generic goals, objectives, or dreams, and there is little reason to adopt a bare-bones estate plan that often skips over such matters.
Clients undertaking estate planning with a trusted advisor sometimes learn of new tools and strategies that may be available. Working on your own does not offer the feedback and opportunity to discuss other facets, or future goals, or ways to meet them.
A similar problem with self-guided documents is a lack of guidance on key issues. That raises the risk of inadvertently leaving out an important element of the plan, inserting something incorrectly, or creating unintended results. What is the point of a plan that can not be given effect?
Finally, if the documents are later found not to have been executed properly, they will be given no effect at all. It would be as if you had never done them at all.
Working with an estate planning attorney allows you to make sure that both short and long term objectives are met, to avoid some of the guesswork and pitfalls of going alone, and to learn about tools and opportunities that may be available. It also can establish a framework for a lasting legacy – not just of assets, but also of experiences, philosophies, and values.
Unquestionably, there are a lot of things that we have become accustomed to doing for ourselves. But the possibilities of estate planning are too extensive to forego guidance.