Estate Planning Is No Saturday Morning Project!

Dyi mistakesAmericans, by and large, are do-it-yourselfers. Information abounds to help us tackle all kinds of situations — including estate planning. However, it might be best to use caution when considering preparing your own will and other estate planning documents.

A recent article on WMUR.com Money Matters, titled "The potential pitfalls of DIY estate planning," gives us some pros and cons to consider before trying your hand at creating your own estate plan.

Some of the pluses are:

  • The expense. It is less expensive, as there are no attorney fees.
  • A simple task. Plenty of online resources and books can help you through the process.
  • 'Better than nothin'. You know what happens if you die without a will: the state will decide who gets your assets, as well as name a guardian to care for your minor child.

These are all sound arguments. However, if you look at the minuses carefully, you will find that do-it-yourself can be risky, time-consuming, and expensive. The original article notes that an "over the counter" estate plan might:

  • Fail to include the appropriate language and to handle complex situations, such as children from a prior marriage, children with special needs, and appreciated property.
  • Fail to take implement more sophisticated estate planning strategies.
  • Include drafting errors because of a failure to understand the instructions or not inputting data correctly.
  • Fail to update documents with new legislation and case law which may impact your estate.

The document you construct may not be valid or effective, which may result in unintended consequences. A big "con" in this equation is that your home-made estate plan may give you a handy-dandy set of forms—but no legal advice. An experienced estate planning attorney can provide you with so much more than the forms: years of practice, training, and education to apply to your specific set of circumstances.

Remember the saying, "You get what you pay for." A cut-rate will or trust from the internet is the same for you as the next guy or gal. There is little or no thought regarding what you want to accomplish and how you want to do it.  Make a point of speaking to an estate planning attorney right away, and save the do-it-yourself for some Saturday morning chores around the house.

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.

Reference: WMUR.com Money Matters: (September 11, 2014) "The potential pitfalls of DIY estate planning"


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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.