It’s probably tempting to be able to quickly and cheaply handle your estate planning using online, do-it-yourself (DIY) documents, and you may even realize such generic plans aren’t as high quality as those drafted with an attorney’s help, but with your hectic schedule, a DIY will is just way more convenient. Besides, having “something” in place is better than having nothing, right?
Unfortunately, this is a case in which SOMETHING is not better than nothing, as we discussed last week in the first part of this series. In part one, we discussed the many ways DIY plans can fail to keep your family out of court and out of conflict, and here we’ll explain how these generic documents can leave the people you love most of all—your children—at risk.
The people you love most
If you’re like most parents, it’s probably downright unimaginable to contemplate your children’s care falling into the wrong hands, yet that’s exactly what could happen if you rely on free or low-cost fill-in-the-blank wills found online, or even if you hire a lawyer who isn’t equipped or trained to plan for the needs of parents with minor children.
Naming and legally documenting guardians entails a number of complexities that most people aren’t aware of. Even lawyers with decades of experience frequently make errors when naming long-term legal guardians. If wills drafted with the help of a professional are likely to leave your children at risk, the chances that you’ll get things right on your own are pretty much zero.
What could go wrong?
It’s great if your DIY will names legal guardians for your kids in the event of your death, but does it include back-ups? If you named a couple to serve, how is that handled? Do you still want one of them if the other is unavailable due to illness, injury, death, or divorce?
What happens if you become incapacitated and are unable to care for your children? You might assume the guardians named in the DIY will would automatically get custody, but your will isn’t even operative in the event of your incapacity.
Perhaps the guardians you named in the will live far from your home, so it would take them a few days to get there. If you haven’t made legally binding arrangements for the immediate care of your children, it’s highly likely that they will be placed with child protective services until those guardians arrive. Even if you name family who live nearby as guardians, your kids are still at risk because it’s possible they might not be immediately available if and when needed. Who even knows where your will is or how to access it? There are simply far too many potential errors you can make when you do everything alone.
The Kids Protection Plan®
To ensure your children are never raised by someone you don’t trust or taken into the custody of strangers even temporarily, consider creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan®, which only Personal Family Lawyers® like us are trained and licensed to counsel you through and prepare.
This is so important, we’ve even created an easy-to-use and absolutely free website you can visit right now to take the first steps in creating the proper legal documents naming the long-term guardians you’d want to care for your children if you could not. If you have minor children at home, you should immediately use this resource to get started and then schedule a follow-up visit with us to put the full Kids Protection Plan® in place.
Get the right “something”
Protecting your family and assets in the event of your death or incapacity is such a monumentally important task you should never consider winging it with a DIY plan. No matter how busy you are or how little wealth you own, the potentially disastrous consequences inherent in such plans are simply too great—often they’re not even worth the paper they’re printed on.
If you’ve yet to do any planning, contact us to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session. If you’ve already created a plan—whether it’s a DIY job or one created with another lawyer’s help—contact us to schedule an estate plan review and check-up. We’ll ensure your plan is not only properly drafted and updated, but that it has all of the protections in place to prevent your children from ever being placed in the care of strangers or anyone you’d never want to raise them.
No matter what you do, make certain you have a “something” that’s better than nothing. Contact us as your Personal Family Lawyer® today, and we’ll provide you with that level of confidence—and so much more.
This article is a service of Levi Alexander, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.