If you venture into the realm of “digital wills” or “online estate planning” through a quick Google search, a plethora of websites will unfold before your eyes, each offering a wide array of inexpensive options for do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts. These platforms promise to furnish you with a range of estate planning documents, including wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives—often at minimal or even no cost at all.

From the well-known names of LegalZoom® and Rocket Lawyer® to the emerging platforms such as TrustandWill.com and FreeWill.com, these DIY legal document providers may appear as the perfect solution, offering an affordable and convenient approach to checking off that daunting estate planning task from your to-do list. Why spend a fortune on a lawyer when you can effortlessly navigate the process yourself? After all, haven’t you been adeptly preparing and filing your taxes online for years? Surely, estate planning cannot be that different. Plus, aren’t lawyers themselves employing these very same forms found on these user-friendly DIY document websites?


The notion propagated by DIY and online estate planning services, that you can effortlessly handle your estate planning needs alone, is a deceptive one, contrary to reality. In fact, entrusting your loved ones’ future to these services can prove to be an incredibly costly mistake.

It is essential to understand that merely generating “legal” estate planning documents does not guarantee their effectiveness when the time comes—for you, and most importantly, for the people you hold dear. Without a comprehensive grasp of your family dynamics, the complexity of your assets, and the intricate legal procedures that unfold upon your demise or incapacitation, it is highly probable that grave errors will creep into your DIY or online estate plan.

What’s even more disheartening is that these errors often remain hidden until it’s too late, leaving your loved ones to grapple with the aftermath. They will be left to clean up the mess you unknowingly left behind or face the arduous and expensive courtroom battles that can stretch on for months, if not years.

In the end, relying on DIY or online estate planning documents can prove to be more detrimental than not having an estate plan at all. Allow me to illustrate the reasons why this is the case.


The allure of online document services for estate planning can create a deceptive sense of assurance—giving you the impression that your estate matters are adequately taken care of, when in reality, they are likely far from it. In fact, DIY plans can lull you into a false sense of security, leading you to believe that estate planning is no longer a pressing concern, thereby causing you to procrastinate until it becomes too late to create a proper and comprehensive plan.

This reliance on DIY estate planning documents is undeniably one of the riskiest choices you can make. Ultimately, these cookie-cutter forms have the potential to result in additional financial burdens and emotional distress for your family, surpassing the potential consequences of having no estate plan in place at all.

At least in the absence of a plan, estate planning would likely remain at the forefront of your thoughts, reminding you of its importance until you take the necessary steps to address it with the guidance of trusted legal counsel.


As the popularity of cheap online document services for estate planning grows, it becomes crucial to recognize that taking the DIY route can not only fail to achieve the primary purpose of estate planning, but it can also complicate matters and increase costs for your loved ones in the future.

Many individuals mistakenly believe that estate planning revolves solely around filling out the right legal documents. However, the true value of estate planning lies not in the documents themselves, but in the meticulous planning process. The documents are merely the tangible outcomes of thoughtful consideration, counseling, and decisions that require a genuine understanding of all available options and their potential ramifications.

Without thorough planning and careful consideration, the documents alone—wills, trusts, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney—hold little value. Proper planning involves seeking the guidance of a trusted advisor who can help anticipate potential problem areas, conflicts, and opportunities that may impact your plan. This trusted advisor will assist in adapting your plan accordingly and crafting documents to ensure maximum benefit and minimal distress for your loved ones.

When executed correctly, this type of estate planning is truly invaluable, as it results in a tailored plan for your family within your desired budget. Moreover, it provides your loved ones with not only a set of documents but also a dependable advisor who will be there to support them in times when you are unable to. This is precisely the level of service we offer at Dracheva Law, through our Life & Legacy Planning Process to every client we serve.

In a forthcoming article, we will delve into the details of our planning services. However, before doing so, let’s examine the pitfalls of DIY planning by exploring five common failures that you are likely to encounter when relying on online DIY estate planning documents instead of working with an experienced lawyer.


In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but PLANNING is indispensable.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, Former U.S. President and Commander of Allied Forces during WWII

When it comes to estate planning, a typical package of documents obtained from an online DIY service (and even some plans crafted by lawyers) usually includes three to five fundamental legal documents: a will, a financial power of attorney, a healthcare directive, possibly a trust, and a legal guardian nomination for minor children, if applicable. These documents are commonly recognized as the necessary legal instruments in the event of incapacitation or death.

However, what remains unknown to many, and often insufficiently addressed by online legal document services or even some lawyers, is the essential content that must be incorporated within these documents to ensure their effectiveness when your loved ones truly need them.

You see, standard documents alone cannot adequately account for the intricate complexities of your family dynamics, your unique assets, and the constantly evolving circumstances of your life. Contrary to the deceptive promises of DIY services, estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all, set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. Even if you believe your assets and family situation to be straightforward, the reality is that complexity arises more often than not, exposing your loved ones to potential risks.

Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of the following issues that may arise, jeopardizing the security of your loved ones:


It’s ironic how the most sought-after legal document in estate planning—the will—is often the one that provides the least comprehensive protection. While it’s true that a will is necessary, it alone falls short in achieving the desired outcomes.

A will serves the purpose of designating individuals to handle your affairs and ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes upon your passing. However, relying solely on a will does not prevent your family from going through the court process. In fact, it guarantees that your loved ones and friends will have to navigate the court system after your demise. Furthermore, a will does not come into effect if you become incapacitated. If you have minor children, depending solely on a will to appoint their legal guardians may leave them vulnerable to being uprooted from your home and placed under the care of strangers.


No matter how impeccable your estate planning documents may be, if you neglect to sign them or sign them incorrectly, they will ultimately prove ineffective. While it may appear trivial, the reality is that we have witnessed countless families who presented us with an estate plan after the incapacitation or passing of a loved one, only to find ourselves unable to assist them due to improperly signed or unsigned documents.

To be legally valid, specific estate planning documents such as wills must adhere to strict legal procedures during execution (i.e., signing, witnessing, and/or notarizing). For instance, many states require that you and every witness to your will must sign it in each other’s presence. If your DIY will fails to mention this requirement (or if you overlook the fine print) and subsequently fail to follow the procedure, the document may end up being rendered worthless.

Next week in part two of this series, we will cover the remaining three ways your DIY estate plan can fail and leave your family at risk.