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Why DIY Texas Estate Planning Isn’t Worth It

Christene (Chris) Krupa Downs
Rated by Super Lawyers


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When it comes to creating your estate plan, the internet provides innumerable tools and templates so you can do-it-yourself. It might be very tempting to bypass the formalities of working with a lawyer, and you might be able to save a quite a bit of money up front. But is it worth in the long run? Texas Estate planning is a detailed process that usually requires the help of a qualified professional. Here are some issues to keep in mind if you take the DIY approach to your estate plan.

The Hidden Risks of Online Templates

Making an estate plan is a personalized process that requires much more than just filling out forms.  Online templates will rarely everything you need, and improper execution can lead to your will being declare invalid. When it comes to estate planning, one size does not fit all and there many common mistakes to avoid. Here are just a few:

  • Improper Witnesses: Most people understand that a will has to be witnessed by two people in virtually every state. However, one important issue to remember is that your witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of your estate. Any gift or benefit to your witness might result in court proceedings or litigation.
  • Misunderstanding State Laws: Each state has different rules about wills and powers of attorneys. A generic online document might not take into accounts the different requirements for executors and administrators of your estate. If you go the DIY route, make sure the online document you choose is tailored to the state you are living in.
  • Limiting Yourself to Just a Will: Most people mistakenly think a will is enough, and online wills do make it easy to think estate planning will be a quick process. But it is often wise to have other elements, including a healthcare directive (in case you are incapacitated) or a revocable trust.
  • Not Considering Tax Issues: Estate tax regulations change frequently, and it’s important to ascertain whether your online documents is up to date, with regards to both federal and state laws.
  • Failing to Distinguish Between Probate and Non-Probate Assets: While you might bequeath your house to someone in a will, you might need a beneficiary designation to bequeath your checking account or life insurance policy to that same person. An attorney can help you with these details in a way that an online document cannot.

Why an Estate Planning Attorney Makes a Difference.

There are some instances where an online template can be sufficient for your estate plan. But there is a real reason that the American Bar Association does not recommend the DIY approach. While using a Texas estate planning attorney might be more expensive and time consuming, you are less likely to run the risk of that your property will not be distributed the way you intended or that your will might even be invalidated. Estate planning attorneys can provide an approach tailored towards your intentions and your assets and help you and your family avoid court costs and legal battles in the future.