The often-ignored risks of DIY estate planning

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2023 | Estate Planning

A surprising number of adults are attempting to create their own estate plans. Many are turning to how-to tutorials online which gives them a false sense of confidence about the end product that they’re seeking to craft.

Unfortunately, the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to estate planning employed by many independent adults ends up doing more harm than good in many cases. Why is a DIY estate plan so dangerous?

People don’t understand the requirements for valid documents

In movies, people scroll out a will with their dying breath alone in a room, signing their name as a candle blows out dramatically. Or they leave behind dramatic video wills where they announce big surprises for their family members that no one saw coming.

Neither of those approaches is likely to result in a valid or enforceable document in Nevada. State law requires that someone write their will or that they sign a printed will in the presence of two witnesses.

Additionally, the testator creating the documents needs to be an adult and have provable testamentary capacity to create those documents. People may make big mistakes about the technical details of their will that will keep these documents from being enforced as valid expressions of intent.

In fact, they could also make mistakes in the contents of their will that could lead to challenges. Someone might want to disinherit their spouse because they don’t believe in divorce. A lawyer would be able to tell them that it is impossible to disinherit a spouse under Nevada law. Not knowing that, the document will end up challenged by the disinherited spouse and likely thrown out by the probate courts.

A lawyer’s advice is invaluable

The average person couldn’t simply read the probate laws in Nevada and then create an enforceable will. They need help to understand the law and then create a document that aligns with the existing statutes.

Lawyers can help people to identify their personal liabilities and estate planning needs. They can create customized documents that achieve people’s goals and ensure that the documents are valid. The time and money that someone thinks they may save by creating a DIY will may all be for nothing, as their estate could end up substantially diminished by probate litigation. Under these circumstances, they may ultimately have no control over who inherits property from their estate.

In a nutshell? Getting professional help can make all the difference for those who know it is time to begin estate planning.