More About the Dangers of “Do It Yourself” (DIY) Estate Plans
I once had a widowed client who used an online do-it-yourself will that failed to mention what would happen if his only son predeceased him. Well, that is what happened. And, because this son did not have any children, I advised my client that if he didn’t update his will, his assets would then pass to his “heirs” at law. In his case, this meant a niece and nephew. He had no relationship at all with these folks.
We updated the will and my client named a close friend and made some charitable bequests. That is the reason to have an attorney assist you with this process. We know the questions to ask, and we know what to do with the answers.
Also, without a lawyer advising you, you might not understand the terms in your documents. This can be dangerous. For example, a Durable Power of Attorney essentially gives someone else (the “agent”) the power to take care of your finances if you become incapacitated. Without understanding all the terms in the document, you could inadvertently give someone more power than you want to when creating a durable power of attorney. If that person isn’t trustworthy, he or she could steal from you. It happens all the time.
Another problem with DYI documents is that if the document isn’t executed properly—in Florida, you need 2 witnesses and a notary to your signature in a Durable Power of Attorney—then the document will not even be valid.
A lawyer with expertise in estate planning can end up saving you and your family lots of money. It is very sad when families call me after a loved one has become incapacitated or dies and there are mistakes in the documents. By then, it’s too late.
If you need advice on preparing such documents, call the Law Office of Debra G. Simms today at 386.256.4882
This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.