DIY Estate Planning is Bad Idea

Would you repair your own brakes? Not unless you have some expertise as an auto mechanic doing brake jobs. If you had a throbbing cavity, would you pull your own tooth? Not unless you were stranded on an island by yourself. These questions scarcely escape their own statement. Then ask yourself this one – why would you draft your own estate plan using a self-help, legal document production website? Sounds super silly right? Unless you are an attorney with estate planning experience, why would you do your own will? But that is what many people think they can do to save a few bucks now with do it yourself (“DIY”) estate planning documents.

The problem is obvious with DIY estate plans. DIY estate plans are like playing Russian Roulette with your family’s livelihood after you are gone. If you muck it up, miss something, make a mistake, misunderstand a statute or law, or fail to realize the consequences of certain courses of action or estate elections, then you cannot fix the problem when you are gone, and the estate plan may be rendered useless (or worse make everything extremely complicated for the people you attempted to protect with your DIY estate plan). Again, making a DIY estate plan is not like a weekend warrior attempting to remodel a bathroom where you can make a dozen trips to the hardware store for further advice on how to unwind the mess you made.

And all to save a few bucks? Ask yourself, is that worth it? If you want to save a few bucks, then think generic medications or pre-owned cars but not DIY estate planning because there is too much at stake usually. Keep in mind, you are making an estate plan for the future of your family when you are gone and not trying a new chocolate chip cookie recipe from Pinterest (that if you screw up you are going to eat anyways). There is no “nailed it” for a DIY estate plan gone wrong.

An estate plan is a living document that changes and grows as you do throughout your life and can protect your family (especially during uncertain times like the current pandemic). An estate plan adapts as you get older to you and your family as your family’s needs change. The key to this plan is to get your wishes down on paper while you are alive so you can take care of whoever you want in whatever way you want when you are gone.

An estate planning attorney can help. With the proper legal counsel, you make an estate plan that reflects your wishes. With the proper legal counsel, you can make an effective estate plan to lessen any tax implications. With the proper legal counsel, you can make sure that your minor children are properly cared for should the unthinkable happen. With the proper legal counsel, you can change, update, and revise your will as you get older to fully meet your needs. You get the piece of mind that a legal professional guided you through the process and is watching out for your interests all along the way.[i]

Truth be told, you are not paying for the attorney to simply prepare documents. You are paying for the attorney’s counsel, skill, and expertise. The documents simply reflect the culmination of the attorney’s counsel, skill, and expertise coupled with your wishes and desires for your family. You are paying for complete piece of mind that the job is done correctly.

On the other hand, if you die without a will in Florida (or a badly created DIY one), then there are no seances with mediums to determine your wishes prior to your death. The courts will not look to the ether to have some sign from beyond to advise it to whom to bequeath your belongings. So, if you do not want certain things to go to certain people, or, you want most things to go a specific person or charity, then you must put those wishes in writing before you are dead. And if you did not get it down correctly in your DIY estate plan then your family may be left scratching their heads.

Isn’t your family worth the extra money to make sure your estate plan is done correctly?

Anthony Candela is the Trial Dog and a three-time Board-Certified criminal trial attorney. He opened the Candela Law Firm, P.A. in 2014 and handles criminal trials and appeals (as well as estate planning, wills, and trusts). He received his J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law in 2000 and his B.A. in Political Science from King’s College in 1996. As an expert in criminal law and procedure, he has tried over a hundred cases to verdict. Since 2008, he has been certified and recertified by the Florida Bar in Criminal Trial three times. He has also argued several dozen appeals. In the federal system, he is admitted to the Middle District of Florida and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal. #candelalawfirm #thetrialdog @candelalawfirm @thetrialdog

THE CHOICE OF ATTORNEY MATTERS. IN A CLOSE CASE, YOU WANT EVERY ADVANTAGE YOU CAN GET. YOU WANT THE BEST YOU CAN AFFORD. If you are looking for representation in a criminal matter or estate planning, we believe we can help you. Please contact or Anthony Candela at (813) 417-3645 to discuss your case.

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No. 21-013 DIY Bad Juju

[i] The second less obvious reason for using a licensed attorney that handles estate planning is that the attorney doing this kind of work usually has malpractice insurance to protect their clients. If the attorney you hire goofs something up on your estate planning documents (and it can be shown to be a goof), then your family may be able to get a money damages recovery from the insurance carrier. If you goof on your DIY estate plan, then there is no one to blame. No one gets anything because you made the mistake. These internet legal document websites disclaim any responsibility for that exact reason. Like the Zack Brown Band sang, “there is no dollar sign on a piece of mind…” Rest assured that working with an attorney is the best choice in this regard.

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