The downside of do-it-yourself estate planning

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2023 | Estate Planning

Do-it-yourself estate planning poses significant risks and can impact your beneficiaries and assets. California residents can tackle several things as do-it-yourself projects, but estate planning should not be included in that to-do list.

Questions of validity

Not all do-it-yourself estate planning documents are valid in California. To be legally recognized under California law, all documents must meet specific requirements and statutory standards. If a document such as a durable power of attorney or trust fails to meet these requirements, the court may deem it invalid. In such cases, your estate could be distributed based on California’s law of intestate succession. Will and trust contests deemed invalid in do-it-yourself estate planning can be costly and time-consuming and reduce the amount of your estate left for your loved ones.

Failure to address your goals

Another issue with do-it-yourself estate planning documents is that they may not align with your estate planning goals as you think they do. These documents may not be suitable for your specific circumstances. When you prepare estate planning documents with the assistance of experienced professionals, the first step is to identify your goals and then establish documents that effectively achieve those goals.

Do-it-yourself estate planning documents do not always ensure that your family receives the maximum benefit from your financial planning. They may overlook unique family situations, such as financially irresponsible beneficiaries or providing for beneficiaries with special needs. DIY estate planning documents may also fail to maintain the privacy of financial information and potentially lead to probate proceedings after your passing.

While individuals need to consider estate planning, part of fulfilling your due diligence is ensuring that your estate planning reflects your personal and financial circumstances and goals. Experienced professionals assisting in preparing estate planning documents take the first step of identifying your goals and then establishing documents that effectively achieve those goals.