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Insider’s view: forgoing attorney to self-draft will not smart

An estate planning insider recently writing on that topic for Forbes sought to underscore a point on self-drafted wills by making an analogy to an electrician.

Christine Fletcher notes in her piece that she, like legions of other do-it-yourself types across the country, could successfully do any number of technically oriented things by following online instructions that are readily available these days.

Her reference to the electrician stresses that she could just forgo professional help and seek to change an electrical outlet herself.

Readers likely know where this is going. Fortunately, so does Fletcher, who in a cost-benefit analysis acknowledges that she might save a few hundred bucks or conversely -- more likely -- “burn my house down or die of electrical shock.”

Segue to estate planning, which Fletcher does after making her point on the potentially heavy costs linked with dismissing professional input in lieu of a DIY approach to something complex and truly important.

Fletcher’s core takeaway is this: Trying to do the work of a professional yourself is almost NEVER a good idea. From the perspective of self-drafting a will, the potential and extremely likely downsides can be flatly dire. As she notes, angry and/or confused heirs might incur large legal fees “to unravel the mess left behind.”

Fletcher provides a number of real-life examples that spotlight dismal endings linked with DIY efforts. A planner’s goals and legacy can be easily frustrated. Otherwise avoidable conflict between surviving loved ones can breed acrimony and protracted litigation. Years instead of days can be expended on planning instructions that lack woefully in clarity.

“Work with your lawyer,” advises Fletcher. Doing so will far more effectively promote planning aims and ensure desired results for future generations of loved ones.

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