By Greg D. Crosslin
The Internet is a wonderful tool. There are many easily accessible forms and guidelines offered by a number of document service providers on the Internet. These companies provide a “do it yourself” approach to creating your own Estate Plan. While “fill-in-the-blank” Wills and Trusts can be tempting and seem very easy and inexpensive, the question becomes is it really a good idea to do it yourself?
Some may say that a “do-it-yourself” (DIY) Estate Plan is better than nothing at all and for many is the less expensive or affordable option. This may well be true. But is that really a choice? Wouldn’t you be better served working with an attorney who can provide you guidance, explain applicable laws in the state in which you reside, walk you through the process, answer your questions, and ensure your Estate Plan is what you want and need it to be, rather than hoping that it works. Without legal advice, you simply will never know if your plan is sufficient until it is challenged in court.
I have reviewed several DIY products on the Internet and in some Box stores and they certainly seem to provide less expensive options. However, if you look carefully at what you are getting and the price, it appears the savings may cost more in the long run. This is especially true, if the Will does not meet Florida statutory requirements and your family ends up in Probate Court fighting over what you actually intended. What appears to be an immediate savings may cost you and your family in the long run. Fill in the blank services are generally thought to be helpful because they charge a standard rate for each document. Unfortunately, as a rule, no one “fill-in-the-blank” form is available to explain how each document in your Estate Plan works together, should work together, how they have been changed, modified, and applied to your specific needs.
By contrast, most Estate Planning Attorneys create a complete Estate Plan that includes multiple documents, such as a Will, a Trust, a Healthcare Power of Attorney, a Durable Power of Attorney for Property, Beneficiary Deed, a Living Will or Healthcare Directive, a Pre-Need Determination for your children as well as other items. A blank box on a form cannot tell you how these all work for your specific needs. At the Law Office of Greg D. Crosslin we believe affordable Estate Planning is necessary and should be available. We have simplified a Flat Fee approach which allows you to consider and choose each portion of your plan, identifying what your needs are and providing you what you want! We have developed this approach to work with your specific circumstances, desires and requests.
The shortcoming of a “Do It Yourself Estate Plan” is that you really are doing it yourself, by yourself and without legal guidance. Estate Planning requires you to address an array of questions, topics and circumstances, some of which you might not have considered before and requires you to make choices that affect not only your life, but the lives of those you love the most. We believe you should do so with the guidance of someone trained in the law, who is able to help you make the best Estate Plan possible you can to carry out what you wish and to avoid pitfalls that may present themselves.
Greg D. Crosslin is Principal Attorney at the Law Office of Greg D. Crosslin, 3999 Commons Drive West, Suite D, in Destin, Fl. Call 850-650-7378 or visit www.destinlegal.com for more information.