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Why Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning Can Hurt Your Loved Ones


Taking on do-it-yourself (“DIY”) projects, such as hanging up your own wallpaper or changing the oil in your car, is a hobby for many and a great way to save money. However, this same approach should not be taken with your estate planning needs. While estate planning tasks, such as drafting a Last Will and Testament, may seem fairly straightforward, they are not.

Even when using a free template found online, you will not receive the legal advice that is an absolute must when it comes to preparing your estate plan. This legal advice is essential to ensure that your plan is carried out in the way you intended, and that you and your loved ones are protected. Below, our St. Petersburg estate planning lawyer outlines three ways doing this yourself can prevent your assets from passing to your intended beneficiaries.

Misunderstandings About Beneficiary Designation Rules

One of the most common reasons DIY estate plans do not hold up in probate court is because the beneficiary designation rules take precedence over your Last Will and Testament. If you do not understand these rules, the estate planning documents you have prepared will not yield the results that you intended.

For example, when you open a retirement plan, bank account, or brokerage account, you are asked to designate certain beneficiaries. If you decide to name beneficiaries in your estate plan who are not the beneficiaries designated on your account, the beneficiary in your estate plan is not the beneficiary who will receive the asset at your death.  The beneficiary designation on your account will dictate how that asset passes, regardless of what your estate plan says.

Failing to Keep Beneficiaries Updated

Many people think that estate planning is a “set-it-and-forget-it” task, but it is not. You need to update your beneficiaries regularly, particularly after major life changes. For example, if your daughter gets divorced, you may want to remove your former son-in-law from your estate plan.

While many people know changing the documents within their estate plan is an important step, you need to remember to change the beneficiaries on your other accounts, too. This can be very difficult to keep track of when you are creating an estate plan on your own. An attorney can ensure all of your documents are updated so your loved ones receive your assets as intended.

Not Considering Tax Implications

Estate plans and taxes are very intricately mixed together. This is particularly true if you want to designate your estate as the beneficiary. An attorney can help you determine if this is the right option for you, and can make suggestions on how to avoid unnecessary tax consequences.

Our Estate Planning Lawyer in St. Petersburg Can Help Protect Your Family

Working with a St. Petersburg estate planning lawyer can ensure there are no mistakes in your plan, and no unintended consequences. If you need to create your estate plan, call our skilled attorneys at Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, for sound legal advice on how to protect your family. Call us now at 727-471-5868 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more about your legal options.




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