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Are you one of the many creative people who enjoy do-it-yourself projects? Do you take pride in hanging your own wallpaper, laying your own tile floor or sewing your own wardrobe? How about a do-it-yourself estate plan? Is it better to have a DIY estate plan than to not have an estate plan at all? Probably not. However, if you do decide to write your own estate plan without seeking counsel from a qualified Florida estate planning attorney, it could be hazardous.

For example, upon your passing it was found that your DIY estate plan was unclear and against legal statutes. Then your beneficiaries had to go to probate court before a judge who was now making decisions on what happens to your estate. In addition, your beneficiaries could be stuck with what you wrote even if the end result is unfair and not what you intended. Be aware that beneficiary designations can be particularly difficult for the DIY estate plan.

We would like to share with you three reasons why a DIY estate plan can backfire because of your beneficiary designations.

1. No Knowledge of the Rules About Beneficiary Designations.
The rules on beneficiary designations always govern what happens to your estate and if you do not know the rules your DIY estate planning may backfire on your beneficiaries. For example, when you open a bank account, a brokerage account, or a retirement plan, you will be asked to designate one or more beneficiaries. Whoever you write down in that beneficiary box is the person or persons who will receive the remainder of the account when you pass away. Now this is important, it does not matter if you write a different name or names in your will or estate plan. The name or names written on the beneficiary designation form for any account is what will happen. Meeting with a qualified Florida elder law attorney can help avoid these types of errors.

2. Never Updating Beneficiary Designations.
In your do-it-yourself estate plan you did match your estate plan to what you put on the forms for your accounts. However, are you also making regular updates? Remember, every time you decide you want to change a beneficiary designation you have to do it both on your accounts and in your estate plan. This may be avoided if you discuss your estate planning needs with a qualified estate planning attorney.

3. Making Your Estate a Beneficiary.
To make your estate really simple, you might decide to just make your estate the beneficiary of every account. If you do this in your DIY estate plan, however, you could run into unintended tax consequences. Consult a Florida estate planning attorney for more information.

At Britton G. Swank, P.A., our mission is to guide you in the right direction to help you provide for yourself and your loved ones no matter what the future holds. We want to help you control the assets you have, leave them to people and causes you care about, when you want, in the way you want. We can help you take care of yourself and those you love in the event of disability due to illness, injury or old age. No matter what risks unfold, we can help give you the comfort of knowing you are prepared. We want you to feel good about your future and the future of your loved ones. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.