Don't Make the Mistake of Thinking All Estate Plans are the Same

Posted by Harvey L. CoxJun 23, 20210 Comments

I have seen a lot of poorly drafted estate plans.  Inexperienced attorneys wrote some of those plans.   Financial planners and CPAs even wrote some of them.  With the proliferation of wrong information on the internet, I have seen more than a few poorly written do-it-yourself estate plans from forms found on the web.  It isn't a good idea to find forms on the internet and then complete them by just typing your name in blank spaces.  And, just because you pay for a form on the web doesn't mean you're getting something that fits your needs. 

I recently reviewed a Revocable Living Trust created from a form purchased online.  One of the most significant advantages of a Revocable Living Trust is that it allows your beneficiaries to avoid probate.  But, the language in this particular Living Trust is so bad that it wouldn't even do that for the person who asked me to review it.  The problem with the trust is that it contains the wording, "Upon my death, my trust shall be paid to my estate." That wording requires the beneficiaries to file for probate at the grantor's passing because it moves assets out of the trust and into the probate estate at death, the exact opposite of what it should do.

My point is that you can't use a "one size fits all" form to create an effective estate plan.  Assuming that all forms and all plans are the same is a costly error.  If you have doubts about your current estate plan, have an experienced attorney review it.