Just like you, I woke up this morning and started scrolling through the news feed on my phone. One of the first headlines I saw was from the Wall Street Journal: “Estate Planning Goes Digital...”. When I saw the headline, I smiled and clicked right on through to check out what kind of solutions one of the nation’s most trusted financial news outlets had to offer.
Instead of finding solutions, I saw an advertisement for apps selling (or giving you a “free”) Last Will and Testament. I see a lot of these apps because Google knows my searches are heavy in the tech and estate planning worlds. I always feel like the old man yelling: “Get off my lawn!” while shaking a cane when I see these articles. I love modern solutions and innovation, but these apps are neither.
From the tech side, these programs are not innovative, cutting edge or new. People were buying this software off the shelves at Office Depot back in the 80s and 90s! Remember taking out a floppy disk and downloading software to your desktop? Nothing has changed except you can now populate the boxes in the questionnaire from your personal computer or smartphone and the computing mechanism filling in the blanks on the form document operates remotely in the cloud.
As for the estate planning side, Yikes again. As financial planners, accountants and families that have navigated the probate process will tell you, DIY wills can make matters worse than dying intestate (a fancy legal word for dying without a will).
I love technology and spend every day trying to find a way to make the estate planning process easier. The constant complication I run into every time is that self-help and estate planning just do not mix. When you file taxes yourself through TurboTax, you can always file an amended return or work things out with the IRS. When you install a new toilet flap with help from a YouTube video, you can always call a plumber if the toilet overflows. If someone dies with a DIY will that has a mistake based on a misunderstanding (or if executed improperly), “the toothpaste is out of the tube.” Family and friends are left to unravel the mess that was created by an innocent mistake.
Many estate planners are not bothered by these articles because the people using these services are not their target audience. A lot of planners (not all) want clients with complex planning issues that can pay larger fees (which, coincidentally, are closer to becoming repeat business as probate clients). Millennials often lack the complexity required for premium fees and are also the least likely to actually begin and follow through on the estate planning process. While it is difficult to get anyone to do their estate planning (without a financial planner dragging them into the office by the ear!), my goal is to elicit the feedback from clients saying that my process was WAY EASIER and CONVENIENT than they thought it could be.
After navigating the legal guardianship process for three clients, I saw first hand what happens when DIY fails. I pivoted my practice to find the middle ground to help younger families get their estate planning done with this motto: Modern Fast Dependable.
If you would like to know more about my virtual estate planning or online “Documents Ready” option, you can visit: https://estateplanningtn.com/documentsreadyguide and read testimonials from past clients at Testimonials and Reviews.
I will also jump on Facebook Live today at 2 PM to answer any questions (not intended to give legal advice and no attorney-client relationship created).
You can visit my website at https://estateplanningtn.com/