5 Reasons that DIY Estate Planning is a Bad Idea

Legal documents are rampant in today’s “do-it-yourself” era, where a click of your mouse allows you to find out how to do anything on your own. Cheap and free methods of DIY estate planning proliferate on the internet, promising you peace of mind without the necessity of expensive attorney’s fees or even setting foot in a lawyer’s office. However, as you will see, this kind of estate planning can easily backfire and create unintended problems for your surviving family members. Even worse, DIY estate planning can have unintended consequences that may be costly and time-consuming for your family to remedy after you have passed away.

A Florida estate planning attorney at Kramer Green can help you create a comprehensive estate plan for you and your family. We can help you determine what your objectives are for your estate plan and how to meet those goals during the estate planning process. Here are five reasons you should choose the guidance only an experienced Florida estate planning law firm can provide.

  1. Florida law has specific laws that govern the legal validity of estate planning documents.

Like every state, Florida has laws that outline specific requirements for the legal validity of certain documents used in estate planning. Florida Statutes § 732.502 provides for certain execution requirements that wills must meet to be legally enforceable documents. For instance, the testator, or the person making the will, must sign his or her name at the end of the will or acknowledge that he or she previously signed the will in the presence of two witnesses. These witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator and each other.

All too often, DIY estate planning documents fail to incorporate the requirements required by state law. With legal counsel, you can ensure the documents are legally valid under Florida law. Furthermore, as state laws change over time, there is no way to ensure that DIY forms found on the internet are updated to reflect these changes.

  1. DIY estate planning documents typically use a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Everyone’s situation is unique, and some situations are more complex than others. DIY estate planning documents use a “one-size-fits-all” approach that addresses only the most common family situations. Therefore, if you have a complex family dynamic or unusual situation, these forms will not likely meet your needs. Even worse, if these forms do not adequately fit your situation, you may execute documents that do not truly represent your intentions for your estate.

  1. DIY estate planning can have catastrophic consequences.

Suppose you use DIY estate planning products to draft a will. If you pass away, and the will you executed turns out to be legally invalid, then it will be as if you passed away intestate or without a will. Therefore, your property will be distributed according to Florida’s intestacy laws, which may differ from how you wanted your property to be distributed. For example, a surviving family member you intended to disinherit altogether or an estranged family member could receive the bulk of your estate.

  1. DIY estate planning could increase the likelihood of a will contest.

If your DIY estate planning fails to distribute property as you intended, your surviving family members may be more likely to challenge the will through a will contest. These proceedings can be lengthy, expensive, and reduce your estate assets. Will contests also can result in heightened discord and resentment among family members.

  1. DIY advance directives could result in conflict and unintended results or require costly and burdensome guardianship proceedings.

Advance directives allow you to choose certain individuals to make decisions about your healthcare and handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated or unable to do so. When executed properly, advance directives can prevent the need for guardianship proceedings, which can be costly and burdensome, particularly when quick decisions need to be made. However, if DIY advance directives are executed improperly or are invalid because they do not comply with state law, they could lead to conflict among family members and the necessity of filing for guardianship to have legal decision-making authority.

Look to Kramer Green for Help with Your Estate Plan

Do not be fooled by the false promises of DIY estate planning, as they may cause you more harm than good. A Florida estate planning lawyer at Kramer, Green, Zuckerman, Greene & Buchsbaum, P.A. is prepared to assist you as you review and update or create your estate plan for the first time. We know how to structure your estate plan to preserve your assets and relieve your loved ones of the burdens of complex probate and estate issues to the greatest extent possible. We also are skilled in helping you carry out your wishes for your estate, including maximizing protections for your surviving family members.

Our objective is to guide you through the complex legal matters that estate planning can involve. Contact our office today at (954) 966-2112 or online to schedule a time to discuss your estate planning issues with our estate planning attorney.

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