Do-it-yourself estate planning can backfire

Many Nevada residents have embraced the do-it-yourself revolution because they know that they can save money by doing several things for themselves instead of hiring a professional. Unfortunately, estate planning is not a task that lends itself to this approach. If estate planning documents are not drafted and executed properly, they could ultimately be declared invalid. This may leave heirs and beneficiaries subject to the laws of intestacy, meaning that state law will govern who receives assets from the estate, which may not be in line with what their loved one would have wanted.

It may be surprising to some readers to know that U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote his own will before his death. The document failed to address certain issues and contained numerous misspellings. It may only be because of his former status as the top judge in the country that his will was sufficient to be declared valid by a probate court.

For Nevada residents who are not familiar with estate-planning laws, following in Chief Justice Burger’s footsteps could be disastrous. Wills and other documents must be executed in a certain manner in order to be valid. Furthermore, certain language is required in those documents, and the absence of it could mean that a decedent’s efforts were for nothing.

Every adult should have at least a basic estate plan, regardless of economic status. Even if an individual does not believe that he or she has anything of value to pass on to family and/or friends, that does not mean that do-it-yourself estate planning is okay. This is one area where the adage “you get what you pay for” is often true.

Source:, “7 Estate Planning Lessons from Celebrities“, Megan Elliott, Oct. 3, 2015

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