A family member’s passing is a difficult time that leads the family to question, among…
You can find instructions online for anything these days, including estate planning. So, why shouldn’t you use one of these online guides to plan your estate? Attempting to do your own estate planning online using a guide or forms you found on the Internet can end up being worse than not planning at all.
“But what I want is very simple,” you insist. Be that as it may, unless you are trained to, you will likely not think about and properly plan for contingencies. It will likely not even occur to you to consider other situations that occur, especially if you are thinking in terms of keeping it simple. The law is not simple, but complex and nuanced, and you need someone trained in those nuances guiding you through it.
Consider the following example involving one of the simplest estate planning documents: the health care proxy.
A wife prints a health care proxy form off of the Internet and fills it out, properly appointing her husband as her health care agent. She feels comforted knowing she has planned for contingencies.
- But then… Husband and wife are in a car accident. The wife needs life-saving surgery that carries a risk of permanent complications. The wife is unconscious and cannot consent to surgery. The husband is also unconscious. There is no backup agent named on the documents. What will the hospital do? Who will they rely on to make the decision? Depending on the law, they may contact the wife’s estranged child, the wife’s incapacitated parent, or even the wife’s sibling that she doesn’t get along with. Or the hospital may be forced to have its ethical board make the decision.
- Or… The wife suffers a catastrophic medical event and is believed to be in a permanent vegetative state from which she will not recover. Her husband knows his wife does not want to be kept alive by artificial means, but the wife never put that in writing. She didn’t know she needed to. When the husband makes the heart-wrenching decision to discontinue life-support and informs the hospital, the hospital states that they cannot discontinue life-sustaining treatment without either a Living Will or court order. The husband now needs to bring a court proceeding in order to let his wife pass naturally, in accordance with her wishes.
As you can see, estate planning can be complicated. If you are going to do the planning, do it right and avoid estate planning online.
Contact one of our estate planning attorneys today, and let us help you and your loved ones avoid these scenarios which are devastating enough to be dealing with even when someone has the proper planning in place.