The Dangers Of DIY Estate Planning In Ohio: Why You Shouldn’t Do It Alone

Mar 15, 2024

Every year, more and more people are beginning to take control of their personal and financial future by taking steps to get their affairs in order through comprehensive estate planning! While this is a move in the right direction for American families, many want to simplify the process as much as possible, so they attempt to handle these complex matters on their own. Because there isn’t much that can’t be found and purchased through the internet these days, “DIY” estate planning forms and kits are rampant and easy to find with a few clicks.

However, we are here to set the record straight: DIY estate planning should not be your first choice. These online kits are often ambiguous and too vague to align with each state’s specific estate planning and probate laws. Additionally, they are likely not as legally robust as they need to be to manage the complex matters that estate planning entails.

By choosing this pathway, you are leaving the door open for the worst case scenario to become your family’s reality after you’re already gone and can no longer help them sort everything out. If a judge rules that your documents are legally invalid, you will essentially have passed away with no estate plan in place at all.

In this blog, we will reveal the risks and common pitfalls of DIY estate planning and illustrate the immense value that professional estate planning assistance can bring to you and your family’s future!

Risks Of DIY Estate Planning

Lack of legal expertise – It cannot be overstated how critical legal expertise is to the estate planning process. An attorney that has years of education and experience can offer a perspective that the average person (or online resource) simply can’t. When you choose to attempt estate planning without it, you lose that advantage.

Oversimplification of complex matters – As already stated, estate planning is complex, and many DIY documents and forms oversimplify it.

Failure to address unique circumstances – Each person’s personal and financial situation is different, but DIY estate planning kits do not take that into account. Only an attorney can provide a plan that is personalized to your needs and goals.

Potential for inaccurate documentation – It is vital that each and every legal document that exists as part of your estate plan is entirely error-free. Without an attorney to help you, you may not even know when you have made mistakes that could have consequences for you or your loved ones years down the road.

Inadequate protection against litigation – There are many legal strategies that can be used to protect your assets from lawsuits and creditors, but the average person attempting estate planning on their own will not be able to utilize them and adequately protect themself from litigation.

Common Pitfalls In DIY Estate Plans

Improperly executed documents – Legal documents, especially trusts and wills, have very strict requirements when it comes to their validation. For example, a will in Ohio must be written and signed, then witnessed in a special manner by at least two people who have no interest in the will. Any document that is found to be improperly executed according to Ohio state law by a judge will be deemed invalid and treated as if it never existed.

Failure to update documents – Many people think an estate plan is a “set it and forget it” type of thing, but that could not be more false! Think about all the changes that may happen in your life that you would want to ensure are reflected in your estate plan, such as a marriage or divorce, birth of a child or grandchild, and more. There might also be a change in a law or statute that warrants you to update your documents to remain legally compliant.

Incomplete or inaccurate information – Since you don’t have the advantage of years of prior estate planning experience, you may be more likely to apply incomplete or inaccurate information to your documents, which could cause repercussions later on.

Unintended tax consequences – Estate planning lawyers are also knowledgeable when it comes to possible tax advantages and tax law in general as it pertains to estate planning. Without their assistance, you could put yourself in a position to pay more than you have to and miss out on significant tax breaks.

Disputed wills and trusts – A will or trust that was created without the guidance of an attorney will be more vulnerable to contests and disputes, whether that be because of their ambiguity or their legal noncompliance. Will and trust contests can drag on for years and leave your assets locked up in court, not to mention cause conflict within your family.

Consequences Of DIY Estate Planning Errors

Probate delays and costs – Probate in itself is an incredibly long, expensive, and complicated legal process, but when delays and other problems arise, it can all be amplified. DIY estate planning gives more opportunity for issues like these to arise and prevent your assets from going into the hands of your loved ones. Moreover, the costs associated with resolving probate will be taken out of your estate, which may impact the amounts you actually planned for them to inherit.

Family discord and legal battles – Errors and oversights that often happen in DIY estate planning might make your true intentions unclear and the legal validity of the documents uncertain, which leaves potential for your loved ones to have disagreements over what should happen to your estate. Family disputes often lead to more serious legal battles which put your hard-earned wealth in jeopardy.

Loss of assets to taxes and creditors – Another significant consequence of DIY estate planning is the loss of your assets to taxes and creditors. As previously stated, without proper asset protection, tax planning, or Medicaid planning, you run the risk of exposing your wealth to unnecessary taxes and creditor claims.

The Value Of Professional Estate Planning Assistance From Dailey Law Offices

Estate planning is a deeply personal matter for a variety of reasons. You have spent decades building a life that needs and deserves meticulous attention in order to plan what will happen after you pass away. At Dailey Law Offices, we take the time to get to know you, your family, and your unique goals, so that we can strategize the estate plan of the utmost benefit to your individual circumstances. Trying to plan your estate on your own may sound tempting, but the risk is simply too great.

Our lead attorney, Stephanie Dailey, has 20 years of legal experience and is committed to an exceptional level of professionalism and client satisfaction. When you choose to work with us, you can have peace of mind that everything you care about most will be protected and that your future will be bright! Call today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about how we can serve you.