Do-It-Yourself Lawyering

Occasionally, clients will bring us legal documents that they created using an online service. It happened again a couple of weeks ago when long-time clients of mine came in for a trust review. I learned when we met that they had used a popular online service for what they thought was a “quick and easy” estate planning update prior to going on vacation this past fall.

My clients told me that the online service required them to revoke their existing trust and create an entirely new trust -- even though the online service had no idea what their existing trust said, and even though revocation was completely unnecessary. Just as bad, the online service failed to inform them that they needed a new will to go with their new trust, and that they needed to update beneficiary forms directing their assets to the new trust in place of their now-terminated trust.

The new trust was scanty at best and would not have accomplished my clients’ goals had they perished while on vacation. Further, had they died with their old beneficiary designations in place, their surviving family members would have had to open probate estates for both of them.

Fortunately, my clients had a lovely vacation, made it home safely, and have now replaced all of the forms they created online!

Do-it-yourself estate planning almost always results in unintended consequences, not the least of which are heartache and frustration. If you need estate plan documents prepared in a hurry for ANY reason, please give us a call at (248) 477-6300. We will do our best to accommodate your schedule!

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