The Internet has opened up the world for do-it-yourselfers, including the option do your own estate planning. People have saved a tremendous amount of money by “Googling it” and finding how-to videos and instructions on all kinds of things. From alternatives to medicine that promise relief from ailment and good health to do-it-yourself Will kits, there is something for everyone.
On the subject of Wills and estate planning, specifically, many resources, Like Legal Zoom, have been around for years offering very low-cost options for people who want to save money and take control of their own destinies. The forms come complete with instructions to make filling in the blanks simple.
Everyone with kids or assets should think about estate planning if you have any desire to direct how your estate should be handled when you go. People who work hard to accumulate the things they have want some say in how their estates get handled.
One reason why people put off doing a Will is the feeling that there is sill time, especially if health remains good. Another factor that drives people to put it off is lack of knowledge. Let’s face it, most people don’t know the first thing about estate planning.
A person can Google anything and find a wealth of resources available. There is so much available on the Internet that sorting through it might seem daunting. That’s where the Will kits seem to shine. They take the guess work out of it. They might not answer all your questions, but they give you step-by-step instructions, so you don’t need to know everything, right?
Before you buy that online Will kit, take this short quiz.
The following questions address only the most basic of estate planning principles. Answer each one and see how you do. Write your answers down before moving on.
If I don’t do a Will, my assets will go to the state – yes or no.
A Will directs where all my assets will go when I die – yes or no.
Estate planning is primarily about doing a Will – yes or no.
Doing a Will means my estate will not have to go through probate – yes or no.
Doing a Trust ensures that my family won’t have to pay taxes when I die – yes or no.
Putting my assets into a Trust means my creditors can’t touch them – yes or no.
Adding a child to my bank account is a good way to allow access to pay bills if something happens to me – yes or no.
Making a bank account payable on death to one person who knows how I want the money handled, cheap alternative to expensive estate planning – yes or no.
Now that you have answered the questions yourself, let’s see how you did by reviewing answers on this link. These questions only touch on some very basic estate planning issues.
If you get any of the questions wrong, don’t try doing your estate planning on your own. If you do well on these questions, you understand some of the basic principles, but there is much more to know.
If you are gong to attempt to do your own Wills and other documents, arm yourself with more than a basic knowledge. Fill in the gaps in your understanding. Ask intelligent questions of yourself and seek the answers before you start.
It isn’t rocket science, as I often say, but there are many moving parts. Thinking through how those parts fit together is the key to successful estate planning.
I would not advise anyone to “do-it-yourself”, though. Of course not, right? I am a lawyer who does estate planning.
Yes, and there are quite a few of us. We see on a regular basis how estates go wrong. It provides steady business, but your estate doesn’t have to be that way. Arm yourself with information… then go see a lawyer you can trust.
For more articles on estate planning topics, see the Fox Valley Estate Planning Blog. For articles related to family law matters, visit Drendel & Jansons Family Law Blog. For additional articles on various topics of law, visit the general Drendel & Jansons Law Group Blog. For various legal resources, visit the Drendel & Jansons Resource Page.
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