In order to save a little bit of money and to avoid using an attorney to prepare estate planning documents, people sometimes rely on forms found on the internet to prepare estate planning documents. We believe that this is a big mistake!
Here are three reasons why you should avoid "free" estate planning documents from the internet:
- Estate planning documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorneys, and living wills are governed by state law. If you use a form and the form is based on California laws, for example, you may not be following the formalities mandated by Florida laws. In such case, your estate planning documents may be worthless.
- You may need a particular document for a specific reason. Durable powers of attorney, for example, are sometimes needed to set up trusts when applying for Medicaid or other benefits. If the durable power of attorney does not contain the power to set up a trust, you may lack that important power. If you need to draft a new power of attorney, and the principal no longer has capacity, you may need to initiate guardianship proceedings, which are very expensive and time-consuming.
- You may not understand the effect of the form. In Florida, durable power of attorneys are effective upon signing. That means that if you, as the principal, give someone the power to make gifts, that power is effective upon signing. In bad hands, your checking account can disappear in seconds with a power of attorney.
Always seek the advice of an attorney before signing estate planning documents. Yes, you will spend some money. But it is always better to invest money in customized estate planning documents that meet your particular situation than to get garbage forms from the internet. Call me at (954) 532-9447 or fill out the contact form to discuss your particular situation.