6 Examples of DIY Estate Planning Gone Bad

1. The guy who created his own will that left everything . . . to himself.

This seems obvious, but make sure you have your assets going where you want them to.

2. The parent who deeded property to a child to avoid probate court, but drafted a faulty deed
– leading to several unfortunate, unintended consequences.

Due to the faulty deed, the parent’s share of the property must still go through probate court upon death. Making matters worse, the parent had a falling out with their child. Now if they want to sell the property, they need their child’s permission.

3. The man who had his will signed and notarized, but forgot to also have the required two witnesses sign – thereby negating the will.

Every state is different, but most require witnesses. In Ohio, a valid will needs three signatures – the testator and two disinterested witnesses.

4. The gentleman who named ABC Trust Company as the successor trustee of his trust, only it was a fictitious company.

This left nobody to oversee the trust. While all of the assets were in the trust, a case still needed to be opened in probate court to appoint a successor trustee.

5. The individual who created a trust but forgot to fund it.

Attorneys will typically handle the transfer of real estate to the trust, but there are other financial assets that need to be accounted for when setting up a trust. There is a general misconception that assets magically find their way into the trust without any additional work by the individual, such as updating beneficiaries or titling of various accounts.

6. The many people who have created a trust in a will thinking this would avoid probate court.

This is known as a testamentary trust, which will still be monitored by a probate court. Only a funded living trust, also known as a revocable trust, avoids probate court.