Thursday, February 26, 2015

Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning

Prehistoric man, and this guy,  had to be do-it-yourself'ers by necessity (decent read at the link, does not advocate stealing from neighbors if you adopt the hermit lifestyle, even if it is innocuous and out of necessity.)

It started with fixing your own toilet, now you can do your own divorce, straighten your own teeth,  and thanks to the internet, you can do just about anything and cut out expensive professionals. Us expensive professionals now have to try and combat that in a variety of ways. I prefer honesty.

Fact No. 1: You Don't Need A Lawyer To Make A Will

All you need are a pen and paper, and in Texas, as long as you use some magic words (like who you want stuff to go to, and signing your name) it is legit.   The American Bar Association even will tell you how and what to do. Now, life will be easier for you if you do a fancy, witnessed and self-proved printed will, but lets keep it to the basics. You don't need a lawyer to make a will. That said, your family or loved ones will pay a lawyer more on the back end for your cheapness up front, but what do you care, you saved a couple bucks.

Fact No. 2: You Don't Need A Will

Who cares? You will be dead anyway. Problem with this is if you want certain stuff to go to certain people, then you don't have any say. Have kids you don't like or wanted to disinherit? Have a mistress you wanted to leave your Montana estate to? Out of luck. Also, unless you have no debt and only a homestead to leave (no back accounts, other assets less that $50k), your estate will have to pay an attorney ad litem, usually a fee of $400 or more, which is likely more or about the same you would have spent on a will from an attorney.

My go to saying is, "I COULD change my own oil...but I'd rather pay someone to do it right."

For any project, be it a leaky toilet or your estate planning, run the cost/benefit analysis of time, money, and headache and make the decision that is best for you. Whenever I do that, I figure out I am better off calling a plumber and going to the Jiffy Lube.