Estate Planning: Can’t I Just Do That Online?

At Generations Law Group, we hear the question, “Why not create my estate plan online?” frequently, especially from our younger Generations. Unfortunately, when you do your estate planning online, you get what you pay for (or maybe didn’t even pay for). Your estate plan can and should do many things for you, such as save in estate taxes, protect a home from going through probate, or from a potential lien from the state for repayment of home or nursing home care. By creating documents online without working directly with an experienced estate planning attorney (with a focus in elder law), you may miss out on opportunities to protect your property or other benefits.

Durable Power of Attorney

Poorly drafted Durable Powers of Attorney (DPOA) are something we come across quite frequently.  A DPOA names someone to make financial decisions for you when you can no longer make those decisions for yourself. This document can say many different things and provide for different levels of authority. One of the main reasons for getting a DPOA is to avoid the need for a family member or loved one to have to go to court to be named your Conservator in order to help you manage your finances. This process can cost thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees. If a DPOA is drafted online and specific powers are left out of this document, your family member or loved one will have to go to court to obtain the omitted power(s). Having a properly drafted DPOA from an estate planning attorney will help avoid this.

Health Care Proxy

Many folks use the free Massachusetts Health Care Proxy (HCP) form that can be found online or in a doctor’s office. In most cases this document is fine, however, just like the DPOA above, an HCP drafted by an estate planning attorney will have significantly more protections in it. For example, in the event an individual needs antipsychotic medication, the facility that would administer the medication may require special court authority, called a Roger’s Monitor, even if the individual has one of the free Massachusetts HCP forms. An HCP drafted by an estate planning attorney can have specific authority to allow the health care agent to approve the use of antipsychotic medications. Imagine being in a mental health crisis when the use of antipsychotics could provide significant relief and could even be lifesaving. Would you want to have to wait several days or even weeks to get the assistance you desperately need?

Online estate planning may save you a few dollars now, but it could likely cost you thousands of dollars in the future. If you are in need of estate planning, Generations Law Group’s experienced attorneys can help you protect yourself and your loved ones by creating an estate plan that is designed specifically for you and your situation.
Call us, 978-263-0006, to set up an appointment and speak with an attorney.