You can find just about anything online these days and that include wills and estate planning documents. It can be very tempting to create your will online. It’s a quick process, you can do it from the comfort of home, it remains entirely private, and it costs less than consulting an attorney for help drafting a last will and testament.

However, online wills are not the right choice for everyone and may be more expensive in the long run. Here are some of our concerns with online wills.

 Considerations Before Completing An Online Will

  1. It’s a generic document. Online wills are generic forms that may not meet your needs. The rigid wording may make it impossible to properly manage your assets or have your last wishes fulfilled. These generic forms are not a good option if you have assets that will make your estate subject to the estate tax, if you own a small business, or if you have a complicated family tree involving re-marriages, stepchildren, properties in multiple states, or if you think someone might contest your will. In general, the more complex your estate, the greater the need to consult a wills and trusts attorney.
  2. It’s easy to overlook important details. Since online wills are so generic, anyone who uses one runs the risk of missing important details specific to their own situation. Meeting face-to-face with a wills and trusts attorney will ensure all of the relevant questions are asked and the details specific to your life are included in the will. Wills made with the assistance of an attorney will also include a residuary clause. This clause is a catchall for anything not expressly mentioned in the will. Not all online wills offer this clause.
  3. It may not remain current. Sometimes wills are made and forgotten. Without the oversight provided by an attorney it’s possible that heirs born after the will was made could be cut out of the will inadvertently. A will should be considered a living document, subject to occasional review and amendments, particularly when major life events occur. Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and property acquisition are all examples of events that could change your wishes regarding your estate. An online will service will not check in with you occasionally to ensure your will is up to date; an attorney will.
  4. It may not be valid. Most jurisdictions have specific requirements regarding the language contained in wills and how they are to be executed. With 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, it is critical that the will be valid in the jurisdiction in which it was executed. If the will is not valid your estate will be treated as if there is no will and property will be divided according to the intestate laws of your state rather than your will.

Generic Forms Are No Substitute For Professional Advice From A Wills and Trusts Attorney

The point of creating a will is to protect your loved ones and help manage your assets upon your death. While do-it-yourself wills may appear to offer you a way to accomplish this task on your own, this is definitely a buyer beware and a “you get what you pay for” type of situation. Online wills are generalized to meet the needs of the most people possible. That means they may not accomplish your specific objectives; they are not a suitable substitute for an estate plan.

Having your will prepared by a qualified attorney is more affordable than you might realize and comes with the peace of mind of knowing that the document will meet your exact needs and takes into account all facets of your estate and family situation. The cost of having a will professionally prepared by a wills and trusts attorney at Overstreet, Miles, Cumbie & Finkenbinder, P.A. is well worth the protection it provides and can save your beneficiaries many headaches after your death.

Contact us at 407.847.5151 to learn more about our will and estate planning services and discuss your situation or arrange a consultation online.

Notario fraud has been a problem for decades. This type of fraud occurs when individuals represent themselves as legal professionals, but are not actually admitted to practice law in a jurisdiction in the United States. In Florida, as with other states, it is a felony for a non-attorney to practice law without license. Individuals of Hispanic descent are particularly susceptible to notario fraud due to language issues surrounding the use of the terms “notaria”, “escribano” or “notario public.” It is actually illegal in Florida to utilize these terms due to the confusion they create. Unlike many Spanish speaking countries, where notaries serve specific legal functions and may receive legal training, notaries in the U.S. receive no such training and are authorized to perform very limited functions. They are not attorneys and may not represent individuals in immigration or other legal proceedings. Sadly, immigrants are common victims of notario fraud often perpetrated by their fellow countrymen.

What Is Notario Fraud?

“Notarios” and “immigration consultants” are individuals who do not have law degrees, yet offer their services to immigrants in need of legal advice and representation. They rely on false advertising and fraudulent contracts to gain clients then leave those clients in the lurch. Sometimes, notaries charge fees but never perform the service. In other cases, they miss deadlines, file forms incorrectly, or damage their clients’ case in some other manner.

Victims of notario fraud can lose their chance to pursue immigration relief because of the notario’s actions. By then, of course, the notario is long gone and the immigrant is left in a worse situation than when the whole process began. Notario fraud often goes undetected until the immigrant realizes the damage that has been done and consults an immigration attorney for help. By then they could be in a dire situation and be out the hundreds or thousands of dollars that they paid to the notario.

A Language Gap

Part of the problem can be attributed to a language gap. “Notario publico” translates to notary public. Here in the United States being a notary public only gives the person the authority to witness signatures. However, in other countries, particularly Latin America and Europe, the term means something very different. In those countries a “notario publico” is someone who has the equivalent of a law license and can legally represent others before the government.

Immigrants, used to the laws of their own country, naturally gravitate towards what they know and they know a “notario publico” can help them with legal matters. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous individuals take advantage of this and swindle immigrants.

Always Consult An Immigration Attorney On Immigration Matters

The single best way to avoid immigration problems is to make sure the individual you are consulting is a qualified immigration attorney who is licensed to practice immigration law in the United States.

If you need assistance with immigration matters in Florida, contact an immigration attorney at Overstreet, Miles, Cumbie & Finkenbinder, P.A. in Kissimmee, FL at 407.847.5151 or arrange a consultation online.

Once the shock and surprise of a loved ones death eases, there is work to do. Namely, paperwork. It’s important to locate all of the important documents your loved one had in order to expedite the closing of the estate, but many people have no idea where to even begin. To help make the process easier for you, we’ve created this list of important papers that you’ll need to find after the death of a loved one.

Checklist of Important Papers

Death Certificates. You will need multiple original copies of the death certificate to submit to the Probate court, financial institutions, and life insurance companies, etc.

Estate Planning Documents.

  • Last Will and Testament and Codicil(s). Must be originals.
  • Living Trust and Amendment(s).

Asset Information.

  • Financial Account Statements
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Real Estate Deeds
  • Auto and Boat Titles
  • Stock and Bond Certificates

Business Documents. These documents only apply to business owners.

  • Corporate, LLC, or Partnership Documents
  • Financial Account Statements
  • Vehicle Titles
  • Contracts such as leases, loans, and employment agreements.
  • Income Tax Returns

 Contracts and Agreements.

  • Pre- and Postnuptial Agreements and amendments
  • Mortgage/ Promissory Notes owed to the deceased person
  • Property Leases

 Bills.

  • Mortgages, Loans, and Lines of Credit
  • Real Estate Tax Bills
  • Medical Bills
  • Funeral Bill
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Utility bills

 Tax Returns.

  • Personal Income Tax Returns.
  • Business Tax Returns (if applicable)
  • Gift Tax Returns

Consult An Estate Planning Attorney For Assistance After The Death Of A Loved One

Planning ahead is one of the best ways to stay ahead when a death occurs in the family. We strongly encourage all families to create a file of important documents, passwords, and/or where to find this information upon their deaths. Doing so will make the passing easier on loved one who are left behind to manage the estate and will greatly ease an already stressful situation.

For help developing an estate plan, creating a will or trust, or managing probate, contact the estate planning attorneys at Overstreet, Miles, Cumbie & Finkenbinder, P.A, online or by calling 407.847.5151.