In part one of this series, we discussed the hidden dangers of do-it-yourself estate planning. In part two, we cover one of the greatest risks posed by DIY documents.
Maybe you think that you can save time and money with DIY documents you find online. You’re probably anxious to check estate planning off your life’s to-do list. These forms may tempt you because they seem quick and easy. And you’re busy, so why not? Unfortunately, this is one case in which SOMETHING is not better than nothing.
But DIY wills lead to the false sense of security that you have things covered. But the reality is that those generic forms could end up costing your loved ones more money and heartache than if you’d never gotten around to doing anything at all.
In this way, DIY wills and other legal documents are among the most dangerous choices you can make for the people you love. These generic documents can leave the people you love most of all—your children—at risk.
Children at risk
First, it’s probably distressing to think that by using a DIY will you could force your loved ones into court or conflict if you become incapacitated or die.
Second, if you’re like most parents, it’s probably downright unimaginable to think about your children’s care falling into the wrong hands. But that’s exactly what could happen if you rely on free or fill-in-the-blank wills found online, or even if you hire a lawyer who isn’t equipped or trained to plan for the needs of parents with minor children.
Naming and legally documenting guardians involves a number of complexities that most people aren’t aware of. Even lawyers with decades of experience frequently make at least one of six common mistakes when naming long-term legal guardians.
If wills drafted with professional help are likely to leave your children at risk, the chances that you’ll get things right on your own are pretty much zero.
What could go wrong?
If your DIY will names legal guardians for your kids in the event of your death, that’s great. DIY documents are too risky! Consider these factors.
- Does it include back-ups?
- If you named a couple to serve, how is that handled? Do you still want one of them if the other is unavailable due to illness, injury, death, or divorce?
- What happens if you become disabled and are unable to care for your children? You might assume the guardians named in the DIY will would automatically get custody, but your will isn’t activated if you become disabled.
- What if the guardians you named in the will live far away? It would take them a few days to get there. If you haven’t made legally-binding arrangements for the immediate care of your children, it’s highly likely that they will be placed with child protective services until those guardians arrive.
- Even if you name family who live nearby as guardians, your kids are still at risk because it’s possible they might not be immediately available if and when needed.
- And who even knows where your will is or how to access it?
The Kids Protection Plan®
To help ensure your children are never raised by someone you don’t trust or taken into the custody of strangers (even temporarily), consider creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan®, which our firm is trained in.
Get the right “something”
Protecting your family and assets if you die or become incapacitated is too important to do on your own. No matter how busy you are or how little wealth you own, the potential disasters of DIY documents are simply too great.
Plus, proper estate planning doesn’t have to be super expensive, stressful, or time consuming. We offer options for all budgets and asset values.
Also, many of our clients actually find the process highly rewarding. Our systems provide the type of peace of mind that comes from knowing that you’ve not only checked estate planning off your to-do list, but you’ve done it using the most forethought, experience, and knowledge available.
If you haven’t done any planning yet, contact us to schedule a Planning Session. This evaluation will allow us to determine if a simple will or some other strategy, such as a living trust, is your best option.
If you’ve already created a plan—whether it’s a DIY job or one created with another lawyer’s help—contact us to schedule an Estate Plan Review and Check-Up.
No matter what you do, make sure have a “something” that’s actually better than nothing. Contact us and we’ll provide you with that level of confidence—and so much more.
This article is a service of Myrna Serrano Setty, P.A. We don’t just draft documents, we help you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.
That’s why we offer a Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make the best choices for the people you love. Call our office today to schedule a Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session for free.