Attorney Kathleen Good currently resides in Clearwater, Florida but works with clients all over the state. She took the time to give us a bit of insight on Estate Planning and some do’s and don’ts when it comes to estate document preparation.
Estate Planning Should Not Be A DIY Project
Whether preparing estate documents for the first time, or simply updating your will, it may be tempting to consider the do-it-yourself (DIY) route rather than hiring a qualified estate planning attorney. The prevalence of inexpensive, online legal services has led many people to believe that they can create legal documents just as effective as if they had visited an estate planning attorney. This could not be further from the truth. While the internet offers many resources, we find that most DIY wills and estate planning documents have flaws and loopholes that can become problematic when the time comes for the estate to be settled.
Legal Guidance. 
Estate planning is more than just one document. It encompasses the necessary collection of documents that create the legal situation necessary to achieve your goals. Many of the documents can be tricky and require legal knowledge to be effective. When you create DIY documents using the internet, the program you use may claim they conform to state laws, but that is not always true; thus, getting the details correct is crucial. DIY sites are little more than document mills that churn out the same generic forms over and over. An attorney cannot advise you and will not be there for your family when something happens to you. Leaving it to your family to know what to do after you are gone is a mistake we see far too often.
Faulty forms. 
Online questionnaires that create wills and/or estate planning documents often contain inaccurate, incomplete, or contradictory information while also leaving out important information that can prevent the document from carrying out your wishes. Mistakes cannot be fixed once you are gone. A Florida estate planning attorney will ask all the right questions and obtain detailed information to ensure your documents are complete and accurate.
One size doesn’t fit all. 
Your family is different from everyone else’s family. Just like every state has different inheritance laws, every family has different situations. An online form will not help you protect a special needs child or relative or protect a child’s inheritance from creditors or a nasty divorce. An online form cannot tell you how to protect assets from taxes or help you achieve your goals.
The Bottom Line. 
A qualified Florida estate planning attorney understands the challenges and sensitive decisions that need to be made when creating an estate plan. While a DIY estate plan may sound like a bargain, in the long term it can lead to costly mistakes that can cause legal disputes and a reduced estate for heirs. As a trusted Florida estate planning firm, we will sit down with you to help you determine the best plan for you and your family now and in into the future. No online service can provide that.
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