Why Should I Hire You?
Recently, I had a wonderful family in my office. We talked about estate planning, the difference between a will and trust, and the importance of planning ahead. After our discussion, the mother turned to me and said, “excuse me for the question, but why should we hire you as opposed to doing this ourselves?” I have had this question posed to me several times and it is not new.
With the abundance of self-help and informational resources out there, I think that it is becoming an increasingly legitimate one as well.
The truth of the matter is, is that most people have this nagging feeling to get their estate planning done, but keep putting it off. Conversations about death and distributions are not easy. It takes some thoughtful consideration especially if parents are not on the same page. In brief, intellectually it is hard.
It is possible for someone to learn enough about estate planning to set up their own. It is also possible that they do it successfully. Just like it is possible for people to work on their own car, fix their own leaky pipes, and give themselves stitches. It is even possible that everyone stop frequenting restaurants and opt to make all of their meals.
You Probably Could
If people are able to get through the first step, then to research and figure out how the documents should be drafted, and the difference between a power of attorney and a guardianship, and why use a Trust, the difference between a Personal Representative, an Executor, and an agent for a Power of Attorney, and what who should serve in each role. In reality, I am biased towards people being able to figure it out themselves, because when I think about it I overlook all the background and learning I have already done so that I am proficient.
I, myself, am guilty of the same attitude. Especially when it comes to car repairs. I have always enjoyed working on my own cars and repairing them. The problem is, is that I don’t usually have the right tools, for the job. I then use that as an excuse to buy more tools as I attempt to fix it. The last repair I replaced the cv joints and the struts in my car. I watched a 10 minute Youtube video to replace the cv joints and a 7 minute Youtube video on how to replace the struts. I went in thinking, ok I am not a repair guy, it took them 17 minutes to replace, it will probably take me an hour. I started on a Saturday morning at 8 am so that I could finish before breakfast. What happened next was fairly typical of my car mechanic exploits.
The Cost of a DIY Job
I finally got done about 8 pm at night (not to mention the 1/2 hour shower I took to try and clean up) and I had worked straight through with no breaks or eating. I even employed my neighbor (another amateur mechanic) for a couple of hours and a couple of his tools as well. The same could be said of estate planning, you could spend countless hours trying to figure it out and end up a mess like I was. The difference is that you wouldn’t know if it was a mess or not until it is too late. The benefit of car repair is that your car won’t work unless you are successful, in contrast, estate planning may only be felt by your kids after it is too late cheaply repair it. My wife has been uneasy to drive the car ever since. She just got back from a trip to Fillmore and before she left she asked me three times, “are you sure the car is ok”?
I am not saying that a DIY (do it yourself) attitude is a bad thing, I think we could do with a lot more of that as a society, but there is steep learning curve in estate planning and if you are unable to determine the quality of your efforts until it is too late, that is a gamble that should not be taken without some serious thought.