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“Look Mom… No Hands!” The Danger of Self-Help/On-Line Estate Planning

Everyone likes to save a “buck” right?!? I mean, who wants to pay someone else to do something you can figure out on your own? I don’t blame you; I like to save money where I can too. But there’s one BIG problem with “do it yourself” estate planning… You won’t know you’ve made a mistake until it’s too late, likely after you’re dead and gone.

A few years ago, I met with a prospective client whose husband died unexpectedly. She brought her husband’s Last Will and Testament they’d prepared online, and she said, “I’m the appointed Personal Representative for my husband’s estate.” I looked at the document and quickly realized she was wrong. I said, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but this document appoints someone else.” It was a family friend who they’d intended to name as the alternate.

The problem with self-help, online estate planning is that the documents these website’s “spit out” to you are only as good as the answers you provide to their questions. What if you misunderstand the question and answer wrong? What if the question doesn’t really fit your particular circumstances and there’s another, more effective and efficient way to craft your estate plan? Nothing can replace a person-to-person consultation that (1) allows you to thoroughly explain your circumstances and desires and (2) allows an attorney to offer various available options from which to choose.

If you need estate planning documents (a will, trust, advanced directives, etc.), I can help by providing a free consultation to learn about your specific circumstances and wishes, to offer and explain available options, and to answer any questions you may have about what’s best for you and your family. If you’re interested, please contact me at (813) 244-7758 or I look forward to helping you.


Ross Spano

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