Most people are aware of the need to have an estate plan in place, yet, about half of all Americans do not have one in place. If you are among them but have recently decided it is time to do something about that, you will likely start with creating a Last Will and Testament. That may have you considering the “Do-It-Yourself (DIY)” route. In today’s electronic age it is easy enough to find a DIY Will form online; however, doing so could be counter-productive in the long run. To help explain, the Grand Forks estate planning attorneys at German Law discuss why you should work with an attorney when creating your Last Will and Testament.
The Need for a Last Will and Testament
You undoubtedly already know that your Will can be used to make both specific and general gifts of your estate assets to family members, loved ones, charities, and other beneficiaries. In addition, your Will allows you to appoint someone as the Executor of your estate. If your estate requires formal probate, the duties and responsibilities of your Executor will be numerous and varied and will require a certain amount of knowledge and experienced in both the financial and legal areas. Your choice of Executor can significantly impact how long it takes and how much it costs to probate your estate so choose wisely. Finally, your Will provides you with the only opportunity you will have to formally nominate a Guardian for your minor children should one ever be needed. Your Will is clearly important, making it equally important to create and execute your Will with care.
Why Do I Need an Attorney to Help Me Create My Will?
Given the ease with which you can find legal forms on the internet, going the DIY route with your Last Will and Testament may seem like a great way to save time and money. Unfortunately, the time and money it could save you now is likely to cost your estate, and consequently your loved ones, much more down the road. While there is no legal requirement that you work with an estate planning attorney when you create your Will, there are several benefits to doing so, including:
- Decreasing the likelihood of litigation. DIY Will are contested far more frequently than a Will created with the assistance of an attorney. If someone does contest your Will, it will bring the probate of your estate to a halt and will ultimately cost your estate a significant amount of money litigating the challenge. Not only will your beneficiaries have to wait longer to receive their gifts, but the cost of litigation will diminish the value of those gifts.
- Eliminating errors and deficiencies. When you use a DIY legal form of any kind you run a high risk of ending up with a form that has errors or deficiencies. In the case of a Will, many of the DIY forms are out of date, lack state specific requirements, or fail to provide for the required form of execution.
- Avoiding an intestate estate. Another common problem with using DIY Will forms is that they fail to dispose of your entire estate. There is no way a common fill-in-the-blank form can anticipate every situation and every asset a Testator might have. Consequently, things frequently get left out. That, in turn, results in part of your estate being probated as an intestate estate which is something you are trying to avoid.
- Legal advice and guidance. A DIY Will form does not provide you with real legal advice. Consequently, you run a high risk of making poor choices and/or blatant errors when you create your Will. There simply is no substitute for the face-to-face advice of a licensed estate planning attorney.
Contact Grand Forks Estate Planning Attorneys
Please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about creating your Will, or you are ready to get started, contact the Grand Forks estate planning attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.
- Updating Your Life Insurance - September 29, 2022
- What’s Estate Planning Got to do with Interest Rates – Part II - September 27, 2022
- What’s Estate Planning Got to do with Interest Rates – Part I - September 22, 2022