do your own estate plan

Dangers of Trying to do Your Own Estate Plan

People often wonder why they can’t just do their own estate plan.  There are will forms on the internet.  Banks try helpfully suggesting you add your kids as pay-on-death to your accounts.  What’s the big mystery?  We view it like medical care.  Yes, you can find support in internet sites to diagnose your own medical conditions.  They may even suggest the proper type of medication or operation needed to cure your condition.  But if you are smart you want a qualified, experienced professional to wield the scalpel!

Like medicine, law is a profession. 

The internet site you rely on cannot know all of the factors in your unique situation.  Everyone has some different combination of types of assets, government benefits, retirement assets/income sources, family situations and potential need for long term care, either in the home or in a facility.  Furthermore how will you know if the website accounts for the differences of law in the State of Florida, or your county of residence?  Even Federal laws like Medicaid are applied differently in each state.  Available resources are different in each county.

For your estate plan to work like it should, it must be flexible for future complications.  You may not know all of the future complications when you do your own estate plan.

A good plan should protect your spouse and your children from loss of valuable government benefits, if anyone is or may become disabled.  The plan should protect family assets from your creditors.  Sometimes probate is the best way to achieve this protection.  It should also protect money from children’s creditors, including possible divorce or remarriage.  The plan should be built in a way to avoid or minimize disputes between children as joint owners.

Even a relatively simple situation is made up of many moving parts. 

One-size-fits-all internet documents and joint-ownership devices just cannot account for the variations in your unique situation.

In addition, assembling the moving parts so they work smoothly is just the first step. 

Your estate plan needs maintenance too.  Major family events like a serious illness or death, marriage, divorce, birth, or financial reversals are alerts that you should tune up your plan to reflect those changes.  You should not think of your plan as “one and done.”

It takes expertise to coordinate the various strategies available. You may not have the expertise to do your own estate plan.

Don’t risk a result that will cause you or your family problems and unnecessary expense.  Call us to create a plan that harmonizes the moving parts, so the gears will work together and you will leave the legacy your intended.  Or if you primarily live outside Florida, contact an experienced Elder Law Attorney in your home state to help protect you.

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