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Do Not Draft Your Own Estate Plan

Some people try to save money by preparing legal documents on their own, or with the aid of do-it-yourself books, software, and the Internet, as well as offers from non-lawyers to perform legal work, which results in their wishes not being upheld. We have one answer for our clients who ask how to perform legal work without an attorney. Don’t. We see many problems as the result of such activities, many of which cannot be resolved because the person who signed the worthless document is now dead or incapacitated.

The laws of most states set forth specific requirements to make various legal documents valid. Individuals without legal background in real estate law often make mistakes by preparing deeds without attorneys. Problems may include errors in the legal description, omitting required signers of the deed, omitting language required to say how the recipient holds title, or failing to meet proper witness and acknowledgment requirements. Some such errors can make a deed invalid, and some can make a deed voidable.

The laws involving execution of wills, trusts, and other documents that pass estates after death are much more de-tailed and complicated. People often do not answer questions on computer-based estate planning software correctly, or do not have the document signed, witnessed, and notarized correctly, resulting in the attempt being completely invalid and ineffective.

People have also made errors by relying on the advice of salespeople or other non-lawyers to perform legal work. We have seen examples of people being denied Medicaid because applications that were submitted were incorrect or all assets had not been dealt with. We have seen many problems with trusts created by companies that consist of non-lawyers, especially including incorrectly created deeds transferring real estate into trusts. We have had to probate the real estate assets because they were not in the trust when the person who created the trust died.

If you want to know that a legal document will be upheld, it is wise to use an attorney qualified in the specific area of law to prepare the documents.

Attorney Michael A. Pyle, of Pyle, Dellinger & Duz, PLLC. 1655 N. Clyde Morris Blvd., Ste. 1, Daytona Beach 386. 615.9007. e-mail: or website: