If you need legal forms, such as a durable power of attorney or a will, you probably know you can get them online or at your local office supply store. The forms can be purchased in-person or through the company’s website, giving you the option of a convenient and instant download to your personal computer.

Even though these options might seem convenient to you, you should be aware that there is a substantial risk involved. If the forms are outdated or if they are filled out incorrectly, there is a potential that the document will fail, meaning that your personal choices for your financial and health care decisions, as well as your final wishes, might not be administered as you intended.

Office Store Legal Forms: Technically Legal, But Largely Inadequate

While the forms you purchase from an office supply store are “technically” legal, they are very general in scope and might not consider your specific needs. Such forms do not include specific language, such as how you want your affairs handled in the case of unanticipated circumstances.

 For example, in the case of a power of attorney, if you name an agent to act on your behalf and something happens to him or her in the interim, there is no option to name someone else in his or her stead. Other issues that we have seen include not giving your agent enough legal authority to act on your behalf as required by Florida law, or conversely, giving him or her more influence than he or she should have.

Why You Need a Lawyer for Florida Estate Planning

Simply put, if you are entrusting your final wishes to a generic office store form, you could be putting those needs in jeopardy. If you have property, significant assets, or specific items of value that you want to leave to your loved ones, you want to make sure that the process is as decisive and straightforward as it can be. 

In best practice, it is always a good idea to work with an estate planning attorney. A lawyer will ensure that your best interests are top-of-mind and that you are not leaving a complicated mess for your family to sort out at their own expense. Your lawyer is specifically trained to understand your needs and also has years of professional experience to be able to help you navigate complicated scenarios that you may not have previously thought of.

We know this blog may raise more questions than it answers. If you have questions about estate planning, we encourage you not to wait to reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.