Before you decide to use a Do-It-Yourself form to create your Last Will and Testament, you should understand who may pay the price for that decision. To help you better understand, a Carmel estate planning attorney at Frank & Kraft explains what’s wrong with using a Do-it-Yourself Will form.
The Price Your Loved Ones Pay
In today’s electronic age, where everything can be found on the internet, it may seem easier to simply download a Last Will and Testament form and fill in the blanks than going to the trouble of working with an estate planning attorney. You may even believe that you are saving a significant amount of time and money by taking this route. In truth, you may be saving time and money now; however, there may be a heavy price to pay down the road – and your loved ones are the ones who will pay that price. If you created a Last Will and Testament, the document won’t be tested until you are gone. At that point, you are no longer around to fix any problems that may arise – and there is a very good chance there will be problems, such as:
- Failure to distribute the entire estate – one of the most common problem that arises when a DIY Will form is used is failure to distribute the entire estate. One of the primary reasons for executing a Will is to avoid the state’s intestate succession laws. If any assets are left out of your Will, however, an intestate estate proceeding will have to be initiated.
- Stale language or law – Many DIY Will forms have been floating around the internet for years. Applicable laws may have changed in the interim, making some of the language in the form, or the entire form, stale from a legal standpoint.
- Not state specific – many of the laws that govern wills and estates are state laws. For this reason, a Will must be state specific to ensure it will be valid. Many DIY forms, however, are generic and do not include state specific considerations.
- Failed interaction between documents – using one DIY legal form is dangerous enough. Trying to use both a Will and a trust that interact with each other is much more likely to result in failure because you need experienced legal advice to accomplish this.
- Improper execution – for a Will to be valid, it must be executed using the proper procedures, such as the need to be executed in front of two neutral witnesses. Because those can also vary from state to state, a generic form doesn’t work.
What Happens after You Are Gone?
Most of the problems with a DIY Will do not surface until after the death of the Testator. This tends to compound the problems because there is no way to clear up vague language, fix an error, or explain an omission. This often leads to litigation during the probate of an estate. If your estate ends up in litigation during the probate process it will result in diminishing the value of your estate, meaning your loved ones will receive less than you intended. It will also hold up the transfer of assets to your intended beneficiaries. Ultimately, your loved ones may pay a hefty price for your use of a DIY Will. The easy way to avoid the dangers inherent in using DIY Wills is to retain the services of an experienced estate planning attorney to help you create your Last Will and Testament.
Contact a Carmel Estate Planning Attorney
For more information, please join us for a FREE upcoming seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about using DIY estate planning documents, or if you are ready to get started with your estate plan, contact an experienced Carmel estate planning attorney at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.