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Do-it-yourself estate planning is a risky undertaking

Estate planning is an important part of planning for the future in Florida, as death is inevitable, and incapacitation may happen at any time. For many, it is tempting to turn to do-it-yourself estate planning documents that can be printed from the internet for free or rather inexpensively. However, transferring wealth that one has accumulated over the years to one's heirs without legal guidance is risky.

With appropriate legal guidance, a person seeking to complete estate planning may make serious mistakes that have unintended and costly financial consequences. The information available on the internet and in magazine articles or newspaper columns is more general in nature. As a result, it is often incomplete, and in some instances, it is completely incorrect, making it unreliable for people who are serious about creating well-thought-out estate plans.

In addition, while do-it-yourself will documents are available online, a will is just one part of the puzzle when it comes to estate planning. Non-probate transfer devices, such as trusts, can also be an important part of an estate plan. Furthermore, a strong estate plan features advance directives, such as a living will, which are helpful, especially for those who have terminal conditions and are unable to speak for themselves about their medical care wishes.

Other important advance directives to include in an estate plan in Florida are health care representative powers, which come in handy for people who are not terminal but still cannot speak for themselves. Finally, the durable power of attorney is also important for transacting one's financial and business affairs if one becomes incapacitated. An applied understanding of the law may help people to do estate planning correctly so their estate plans will be effective when they become incapacitated or pass away.

Source:, "Dangers of DIY Estate Planning", Jerry Davich, July 25, 2016

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