Real Life Lessons

Video on the Drawbacks of D-I-Y Estate Planning

Do you have estate-planning documents that were drafted using an online service? In a 2013 Northwestern Mutual webcast, 30% of those watching reported they have—or know someone who has—estate planning documents that were hand written or created using an online service.

Dozens of web sites now offer estate-planning document services for a fraction of what a lawyer might charge to develop a will, trust or power of attorney. While affordable, the trend toward do-it-yourself estate planning is fraught with risk, according to Ruthann Driscoll, director of advanced planning at Northwestern Mutual. “Estate planning documents are filled with legalese; terms that mean very specific things under the law,” says Driscoll. “A friend of mine mistakenly disinherited her sons because she didn’t understand one legal phrase that appeared in her will. That’s why do-it-yourself estate planning scares me.”

Hear more about D-I-Y estate planning from Driscoll and Northwestern Mutual’s Mark McLennon, vice president, investment advisory services, in this brief video excerpt from “Estate Planning: It’s Not Just for the Rich and Famous.”