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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Can I Do My Own Estate Planning?

Florida law does not force you to work with a lawyer to create your estate plan, but the real question is whether you should do your own estate planning. There are inexpensive DIY forms online and in software programs, so writing your own will or trust might seem like a great way to save a lot of money.

You and your loved ones could regret it if you go that route instead of working with an attorney. You might accidentally forget to include a dear friend or to remove your former spouse from the title of assets. These are just a couple of examples of the many things that could go wrong if you try to fly solo on your estate planning. A Florida estate planning attorney can answer your questions, like, Can I do my own estate planning?

Your Estate Plan is Not Merely a Piece of Paper

If estate planning only involved filling in blanks on a form to give away your assets after you pass on, a reasonably intelligent person might be able to do an adequate job. There is, however, much more to crafting an estate plan that meets your unique wishes and needs than a simple form.

Life is seldom cookie cutter. A lawyer can guide you through the many different things you need to think about when creating your estate plan.

Some examples of these questions include:

  • Do you have a child or grandchild with special needs? Gifting directly to that loved one could disqualify them from essential government benefits. You might want to set up a special needs trust for that beneficiary.
  • Does one of your beneficiaries struggle with mental health, addiction, gambling, or money management issues? If so, you might want to create a spendthrift trust that distributes money to them only for necessary items, to protect them from people who might try to cheat them out of their inheritance.
  • Do you or your spouse need to move into a nursing home, but you have too many assets to qualify for Medicaid to help pay the expense of the long-term facility? A Medicaid trust could help one spouse qualify for Medicaid without leaving the other spouse who lives in the community destitute.

Your estate planning lawyer can help you evaluate these and other options that could save you and your family far more money than the legal fees to create a proper estate plan.

Your Estate Plan Should Include Additional Documents That Protect You During Your Lifetime

An estate plan does not stop at merely a will or trust that safeguards your loved ones when you die. Well-crafted estate plans also have the power of attorney documents that protect your money and medical choices while you are alive.

Recent world events have taught us all how unpredictable life can be. Without warning, any one of us could become incapacitated by an illness or accident. It is bad enough when these things happen. Not having the legal documents already in place can make those situations much worse for you and your family.

A durable financial power of attorney allows you to designate someone to handle your money, investments, and other items you specify on your behalf if you cannot do so. You could also get a medical power of attorney naming the person you want to make your medical choices if you cannot do so for yourself.

Without these documents, your loved ones would have to go to court and get a judge to decide who will make decisions for you. The person the judge appoints might not be someone you would want in that position.

A Florida estate planning attorney can help you create a complete estate plan that takes care of both you and your beneficiaries. Contact our office today for a consultation.


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The Law Office of Jeffrey A. Herzog, P.A. assists clients in Florida, including North Pinellas County, Palm Harbor, Trinity, West Pasco County, and the surrounding areas.



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| Phone: (727) 789-4000
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| Phone: (727) 789-4000

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