You’ve heard of people DIY-ing their home renovations and décor, but what about DIY-ing your estate planning? Internet tools have made it possible for individuals to draft estate planning documents without the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney. However, some common mistakes can happen when they choose to do so.
Signature and Selection of Agent Issues
In Ohio, each estate planning document has its own signature or notary requirements that must be followed. Also, there are limitations on who can witness a document and who can be the agent in your power of attorney. Many individuals do not realize this when they prepare their own estate planning documents, and unfortunately, these mistakes invalidate the entire document.
Failure to List Alternates
You likely very carefully chose your executor when planning your estate. However, if they are not available when called upon down the road, the court will appoint a replacement executor. You can save your loved ones from a lot of potential headaches by simply listing one or two alternate fiduciaries or agents in your estate planning documents.
Using Forms or On-line Websites to Create Complex Estate Planning Documents
It is one thing to create a simple will or perhaps a power of attorney using fill-in forms from a website. It is a completely different ball game when it comes to preparing complex estate planning documents like trusts. Unless you have some familiarity in preparing trusts, you are bound to leave out key provisions that will prevent the trust from avoiding probate as you intended and your effort to save hundreds will cost you and your family thousands in the end.
Not Funding the Trust
Many estate planning DIY-ers do not realize that you actually have to fund a trust after drafting it up, which only happens when you put the assets you want to be controlled by the trust in the name of the trust or when you designate the trust as the beneficiary. Failure to do this will cause your assets to go through probate, and the trust will have virtually no effect.
Not Addressing Your Unique Situations
Most families have at least one sort of unique situation to address when creating their estate plan. For example, some individuals have outstanding debt and may want to leave as little money possible to their creditors. Other individuals may want to account for the fact that some of their beneficiaries are not very financially responsible. It’s easy to work through nuanced situations like these with an experienced attorney, but cookie-cutter web forms may leave you scratching your head.
As you can see, there’s a lot that can go wrong when you DIY your estate planning. Would you rather have an ally in your corner looking out for your best interests every step of the way? Schedule a consultation with our team today!