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Deed gone wrong, DIY Fixes Part 1


The problem with most do-it-yourself websites is that they will provide you whatever documents you request without inquiring if those documents will actually meet your needs. If you tell them you want a deed, they will draft a deed, but without any interaction to determine if that deed is the best way to achieve your goals, you can easily end up with a document that may not be the appropriate.

Estate planning is one area where people commonly believe they can handle it themselves with online document sites and can get themselves into trouble real quick. Many people understand the basics of certain estate planning documents and how they operate. However, there are many intricacies, considerations, and available tools available and speaking with an experienced attorney is generally the best way to understanding not only what they do but also how they work together. For example, real estate transfers are a common component of many estate plans. With real estate transfers, a person must be careful because when an error is made, it can result in giving your property away. If you erroneously give away ownership interest, they may not be willing to give their interest back should you change your mind.

This is a situation that our office has dealt with before. A client retained our office after attempting to do their own estate planning and running into difficulties. As part of their own estate plan, they prepared a deed through an online legal document site without determining if that was the proper way to set up the transfer of the property. The client wanted the property to pass to her adult children and a grandchild upon death. The deed was a simple quit claim deed granting the property to the client and the adult children and minor grandchild. While this is what was requested, a deed like this is not the proper way to effectuate the type of transfer she wanted. Once the deed is signed and recorded, those new names on the deed have a real ownership interest in the property. This became problematic when the client needed to refinance the mortgage on the home and was unable to because of the other property owners.

The fix seems simple enough, have the adult children and grandchild transfer the property back to the original owner, however there were many complications that made it anything but easy. In particular, the client needed to get the cooperation from the adults that were added and each one had to complete a deed giving back their interest to the homeowner. In the case of the minor child that was mistakenly added couldn’t just transfer the property on their own, a conservator to act on behalf of the minor child needed to be appointed, which required further paperwork and a court hearing. This client’s resulting fix cost several thousand dollars beyond what was initially paid the online site that drafted the document. While the do-it-yourself approach was cheaper at the beginning, it ended up costing the client significantly more in the long run.

While the quit claim deed that the client had drafted was correct, it wasn’t the proper way to transfer the property to meet the client’s needs. A simple conversation with an experienced estate planning attorney could have helped this client avoid this mistake. With Your Virtual Attorney, we don’t just blindly draft whatever document you ask for, we consult with our clients first in order to understand what they need, determine the best way to meet those needs and then draft the appropriate documents. Our experienced Michigan attorneys are able to assist clients virtually in order to meet their legal needs. Please contact us today at We can assist clients throughout Michigan with estate planning, divorce and family law, real estate matters, and more.