I’ve received quite a few phone calls throughout the last month asking if a Will or Trust they’ve downloaded off the internet (or intend to download) will suffice, and my best answer is:
“How would I know?”
No two trusts or wills are the same, and the validity and effectiveness of the legal documents you are trying to prepare are dependent on so many factors that I cannot begin to wrap my head around why someone would risk so much in order to pinch a few pennies. If your pipes burst, would you get down under the sink and try to fix them? Nope. You’d call a plumber because that’s what he does… that’s what he knows… and you rely on this expertise to fix your plumbing because running water (and avoiding a flood inside your house) are currently incredibly important to you.
Things you need to keep in mind when creating a plan:
- Are the documents valid in your state?
- Do they represent what’s best for YOUR family?
- Do they accurately and effectively distribute your assets?
- Do they incorporate a contingency plan for different assets? For different or substitute beneficiaries?
- If you’re creating a trust, is it funded? Is it funded properly?
- Will the way you drafted your documents avoid litigation in the future?
These are just a few things to consider when toying with the idea of a DIY plan, and I understand, Estate planning services are highly sought after in this “Age of COVID.” People are tempted by trust mills, or worse – trusts downloaded from the internet, that may or may not even be governed under Florida law, and that do not reflect the dynamic of the trust-creator and his/her beneficiaries.
“The adage ‘you get what you pay for’ can’t be more true when it comes to estate planning. Penny-wise and dollar-foolish is the outcome of a poorly drafted will or trust, because upon death, the legal fees in post-death administration will far outweigh the cost of setting up a well-drafted estate plan… Such ‘self-drafted,’ half-baked estate plans will surely go down as ‘COVID Estate Plans’ and will be a synonym for poor planning that will end up in litigation or in probate, costing the families thousands upon thousands of dollars to ‘unravel’ and ‘fix’ post-death,” said Maria N. Jonsson, California Estate Planning Attorney.
If you love your family and want to protect them and your assets for their benefit, don’t put them through this. Hire a professional to walk you through the different types of trusts and assist you with correctly funding your living trust to ensure probate is avoided at all costs.
Don’t become a “COVID Estate Plan” Statistic.