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DIY wills, trusts may spell trouble

The goal of an estate plan is to ensure that an individual's assets pass to his or her loved ones in the most seamless way possible. One of the worst things that can happen is to have an estate tied up in a costly and lengthy probate proceeding. Unfortunately, this can happen if asset owners in Virginia fail to create wills or set up trusts, or if they do these tasks incorrectly on their own.

In recent years, self-help companies have sprung up online to provide assistance with estate planning. However, unlike an attorney, these businesses streamline the process of planning an estate by using a do-it-yourself, or DIY, approach. In other words, only fill-in-the-blank legal documents can be used to create an estate plan.

One of the main issues with these pre-made documents is that they often omit the essential legal language necessary to protect an estate. For instance, a DIY revocable trust may not feature language specifying where assets are to go in the event that a beneficiary predeceases the person who created the trust. In this situation, the estate may end up going to another family member whom the asset owner never intended to receive them.

Estate planning is sometimes mischaracterized as a morbid subject, part of the reason why more asset owners do not take the time needed to set up trusts or draft wills. However, estate planning is a critical step in planning for the future, including the inevitability of death. An experienced attorney in Virginia can provide the guidance needed to complete estate planning in the most efficient and personally beneficial way possible.

Source: tcpalm.com, "Self-help legal plan could jeopardize estate's administration | Estates, wills and trusts", Robert D. Schwartz, March 21, 2018

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