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“Penny Wise and Pound Foolish”… The Very Real Dangers of Self-Help Estate Planning

Recently, I met with a new client (we’ll call her Susan) who’s mother had recently passed away. Susan needed help with her mom’s estate. Susan’s brother (let’s call him Jack) hadn’t spoken with anyone in the family (including mom) for almost fifteen years. And even worse, the last time anyone saw him, Jack dumped a pile of junk in his mom’s front yard, without saying a word, and sped away. Not a word since.

A few years before her death, Susan’s mom had prepared a simple Will without the help of an estate planning attorney. Mom’s Will left everything to Susan and nothing to Jack… or so she thought. When I recently reviewed the Will, however, I discovered that it didn’t “name and specifically disclaim” Jack, a clear requirement under Florida law. In short, Jack is entitled to receive half of everything. Understandably, that’s a hard reality for Susan, especially since she was the one who took care of her mom for so many years.

There’s an old saying, “penny wise and pound foolish,” i.e., something we do to save a small amount of money, but that has a much larger cost or consequence in the future. Planning for the future of our families is NOT something about which we should “economize” or “scrimp.” It deserves significant, focused attention and proper professional guidance.

If I can help you create a tailored, effective estate plan that does exactly what you intend, please contact me at (813) 244-7758 or


Ross Spano

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