Here is another relevant posting by Julie Garber:

Do It Yourself Wills. Done Dirt Cheap (For Now)

And while I’ve had my fair share of clients ask me to look at their DIY estate planning documents either written themselves or with the help of a computer program), not once have I found a DIY estate plan that does exactly what the clients think it will do. In other words, when I explain to the clients what will happen to their hard-earned money if their son or daughter predeceases them or if their grandson or granddaughter is a minor when they get their inheritance, their jaws drop in disbelief and the answer is always, “Well, that’s not what we meant.” Of course not, because they have had no training on how to make an estate plan that will work when it’s needed.

As much as I like to find a bargain as the next guy or girl, there are some things in life you simply shouldn’t attempt to do all by yourself. You know the clichés – would you attempt to fill your own cavity or perform your own appendectomy? So why on earth do you think that you are smarter than an estate planning attorney and can craft an estate plan that will protect you and your property if you become mentally incapacitated and protect your loved ones and your property after you die? Okay, so instead of doing it all by yourself maybe you decided to fork over a few dollars to buy some will and trust making software that was (probably) written, or at least reviewed, by an estate planning attorney – now you’re at least on even par with an estate planning attorney, right? Absolutely wrong.

A generic computer program is no match for the real-life situations that estate planning attorneys have to deal with every day. So while I can confidently tell my clients that what they want to do with their hard-earned money may look good on paper, unfortunately it won’t ever work the way they want it to work in the real world, a computer program will promptly spit out the documents without hesitating or explaining the pros and cons of all of the choices made. So please, do yourself and your loved ones a big favor and go ahead and make that first appointment with an estate planning attorney – in the end you and your loved ones will certainly be glad that you did.