DIY Lawyering?

  With a smartphone or any other connectible device you can watch a few videos and do just about anything yourself. Right? You’ve got this! Right? Sure you do! Even with this epic fail, it can be corrected. Right?

Unfortunately somethings you can do yourself online are not fixable, and the wrong result can be much more serious than a fail at properly hanging a bathroom door. Let’s take preparing your own Will as an example. You find a DIY legal website; you want to prepare your Last Will and Testament; you complete all the questions and choices; you complete the document; pay the fee; you print. Congratulations, you now have your Last Will and Testament, or do you? I will bet that most people who go this route can not explain the results they received because they did not really understand the depth and magnitude of the questions they answered to get there.

Is the Will actually prepared in accordance with all of the specific regulations in your state that govern the preparation and authentication of a Will? Did you properly execute the Will? In the presence of witnesses? Did you see them sign the Will? Did they see you sign the Will? Was it signed in the presence of a notary and authenticated? Those are the simple details to get right. Did you make absolutely certain that all of your assets will end up with all of the right people? How can you be certain? The answer is that you probably really can’t be certain. There are normally lots of moving parts that have to be aligned perfectly to get your hard earned assets to exactly where you want them to go when you are no longer here and available to move them. Did you protect your heirs and their new assets from creditors and predators? Creditors? You know what I mean there. What about Predators? What if your surviving spouse or child or grandchild encounters someone in their life after you are gone that cares only about your assets that you bequeathed to those people and cares nothing about your loved ones? Remember, you will not be here to stop them. However, with proper planning you can provide protection before you leave. Is that not what you are trying to do by preparing your Will?

This is just one very small example of questions and issues that can go wrong if you really do not know what you are doing and know how to properly plan to avoid untold numbers of possible problems that can result.

With the bathroom door fail, your surviving family can always go to the hardware store and make the necessary changes to provide a perfect fix for that problem. However, with your Will, after you are gone, there are no fixes for what you created by saying “I got this!” Your family will be left behind to deal with an unfixable mess in many cases.

So, if you have a real legal question and want a real legal answer, why not contact a real lawyer? An algorithm may not get it right for you, but very likely a skilled lawyer can get it right. It may cost a little more on the front end to save as much as everything on the back end. Life is full of choices and your life story will be the cumulative result of all the choices you make during your life. Do not allow the wrong choices to change your legacy in your absence.