If you are knowledgeable about something, it does not matter what, you have probably noticed something completely inaccurate on the subject on the internet. We all know that on the Internet there is a lot of information that is just not accurate. Sometimes, this inaccurate information is innocent. The person who posted it means well but just does not know any better. However, many times the person posting the information knows that it is not correct.
The truth is that there is money to be made by deliberately posting false information online. Often this is relatively harmless, such as posting that some celebrity has passed away to get people to visit a website. However, sometimes, the inaccurate information is posted maliciously. For example, someone might post inaccurate estate planning information so that you will purchase their documents, services or products. And with today’s computer technology they can make their offerings, websites and emails look very convincing and legitimate.
Knowing the rampant misinformation in one’s own field of knowledge that is available online, it is puzzling that so many people assume internet information posted on fields outside our own is accurate. We look online for answers and automatically assume accuracy. We can do it in our car, walking down the street, sitting in a restaurant — in any setting thanks to smartphones, tablets, and mobile computing. The ubiquitous nature of the internet makes it easy to use and rely on it as an instant encyclopedia of knowledge and information.
The field of estate planning is an area where inaccurate and misleading information is especially prevalent. Sometimes the facts and information may be correct which is good because it makes consumers better educated. But what we do with that information is key. Just learning a few facts doesn’t equip anyone to make sound estate planning moves or decisions. Just like reading an article about back injuries doesn’t make you qualified to diagnose and treat the pain in your back.
So when it comes to education on the internet about estate planning, first be sure that you are reading something by a knowledgeable author who is a reliable and reputable source. Second, understand that a little knowledge can do a lot of harm when applied inappropriately. Third, take what you learn to a qualified estate planning lawyer and use it to help ask questions and understand your options. Have an open mind, because the results may be different than you expect. If you follow these three steps, you’ll be glad you did.