When estate planning attorneys in Florida encounter people who have used DIY estate planning tools, it’s often because of problems that have arisen out of the tools they created. While DIY estate planning does have some limited use, it’s never a substitute for the advice and guidance of an experienced lawyer. When people try to avoid what they believe will be exorbitant legal fees by using DIY estate planning tools, they can easily end up costing themselves, and their families, much more in the long run. Here are some common DIY estate planning mistakes that many people make.
DIY Mistake 1. Creating a will to avoid probate.
When people first start reading about estate planning, they often learn that the probate process is something you want to try to avoid if at all possible. Not only can probate be costly and lengthy, but it’s also a very rule-intensive process that is difficult for most people to manage on their own.
So, in an effort to try to avoid probate, some people create a last will and testament. While every capable adult should take the time to create a will, you need to understand that a last will and testament does not allow your estate to avoid probate. In fact, because a Florida court will have to determine the legal validity of your will, creating a will ensures that your estate will have to be probated.
DIY Mistake 2. Creating a revocable living trust without creating a will.
Unlike wills, a revocable living trust will allow your estate to avoid probate if you use it properly. When people learn of this fact, they often jump to the conclusion that, because the trust will allow you to avoid probate, you don’t need to create a will. This is entirely false.
A properly drafted and managed revocable living trust is one of the best estate planning tools available today. Unfortunately, using the trust properly is something that is often easier said than done. In many cases, people with a revocable living trust forget to transfer their property into the trust’s name, or make other mistakes along the way. Should this happen to you, your estate will need a will to serve as a safety net to catch all the property your trust didn’t cover.
DIY Mistakes 3. Creating a single tool to address all of your needs.
No estate plan is complete if it only consists of a single tool. Your plan will need have multiple elements, each of which complement the other, in order to protect all of your interests. Relying on a single tool, or small number of tools, can be a serious problem.