Posted on Sep 23, 2022

Online estate plans

Beware of Do-It-Yourself Estate Plans

Many people have tried to do their estate plans online. One of the main reasons for this is simply trying to save attorney fees. Other times, people are simply do-it-yourself about everything. However, this is not an accurate or safe way to do it, and the beneficiaries will eventually have to pay the price for this. 

An accurate and effective estate plan should take care of someone during their lifetime as well as arrange for the distribution of assets when he or she dies. Those who use online forms limit their search to Wills and possibly Trusts. They never think about the need for a power of attorney, a health care surrogate, or a living Will.

This will cause problems because if the person does not have a power of attorney, a health care surrogate, or even a living Will, it may be necessary to have a guardian appointed through court action. Guardianships are expensive and cumbersome and often end up with someone appointed as a guardian that the incapacitated person would not have selected. The guardian then makes the decisions about medical care and/or finances.

Most of the time, the do-it-yourselfer fails to ask the what-ifs. What happens if one of the beneficiaries is dead? Who gets that person’s distribution? What happens if the person appointed as the personal representative is dead? In many cases, the do-it-yourselfer lists specific assets to go to specific individuals, but by the time the Will is needed some of those assets no longer exist. If not properly executed, the Will may not even be effective. These are just a few of the problems with doing a Will yourself.

In many cases, doing your own estate plan will fail miserably. Avoiding an attorney to save money may seem like a good idea at the moment, but will not work in the long run. You can read a perfect example of avoiding your estate plan and how it will affect your loved ones in Attorney Michael Monteforte's blog.

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For information on preparing a Will or other estate planning documents, take the first step and download Attorney Michael Monteforte's FREE book, "Planning Ahead" to learn the basics.

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