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DIY: perils of doing estate planning yourself

Some jobs simply call for expertise: complex plumbing repairs, baking a wedding cake and surgery. In all three cases, the odds are with the person who hires an expert to ensure that the pipes, cake or stitches are as functional and beautiful as possible.

The same principle is in effect with estate planning. While it might be tempting to do it yourself, the reality is that few people without legal training and planning experience understand all of the available estate planning tools that protect heirs and assets in Florida.

A recent news report on estate planning featured a pair of estate planning attorneys discussing the reasons why some people try DIY planning. Most of them go online and find various documents with which they can create wills or trusts or powers of attorney and so on.

In many cases, the person interested in DIY estate planning believes that all they really need is “ a simple will.” What they often do not consider in their calculations are the complexities of blended families, questions about their children’s financial health and marriage statuses, children with special needs and estate tax considerations (especially common among those folks fortunate enough to have good life insurance coverage).

Some of the risks in DIY estate planning include failures to simply properly sign and authenticate the legal documents. The problem then, said one of the attorneys in the report, was that “it’s almost like doing nothing at all.” Improperly completed and submitted documents are invalid and make it very possible that the state of Florida will decide on how your assets will be distributed, not you.

An experienced lawyer can help you avoid that possibility while protecting your heirs and assets.

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