Like most people, you are probably aware of the importance of having at least a basic Last Will and Testament in place even if you are not yet prepared to create a more comprehensive estate plan. Also like most people, however, you may have yet to actually create and execute your Will. This may be because you haven’t had the time or because you think having an attorney help you with your Will would be cost prohibitive. Unfortunately, both of these explanations for not having a Will in place are very common. They also both frequently lead people to consider using a “Do-It-Yourself” Last Will and Testament they found online. If you are one of those people, consider the following five reasons to avoid DIY Wills:
- They are not individualized. Estate planning is a highly individualized process. Think about it for a moment. What is more personal, and more unique to you, than your estate? In order for a “Fill-in-the-blank” boilerplate Last Will and Testament form to cover everything you could possibly need to cover relating to your Will it would need to be hundreds of pages long. At best, a DIY Will form will cover the most basic questions and scenarios a Testator might need to cover when creating a Will. If your life includes anything out of the “norm” it will likely not be covered in the Will form you have.
- You cannot get legal advice. It is illegal for anyone other than a licensed attorney to dispense legal advice. That means that the form you find on the internet cannot possibly answer questions you might have nor provide you with advice of a legal nature. Even a modest estate typically runs into situations that require legal advice when creating a Will. Not being able to get that advice could be extremely detrimental to the final product.
- They are plagued with errors and omissions. DIY Wills frequently include out dated, missing, or downright wrong information on them. Wills, trusts, and estates are largely government by state laws, meaning that your Will needs to comply with those laws. Many DIY Will forms also fail to take the state in which the document will be signed into consideration.
- You may end up with unintended consequences. As a result of the lack of legal advice and the likelihood of errors or omissions on the Will form, you could end up with serious unwanted consequences. The biggest unwanted consequence is that the Will may be declared invalid, causing your estate to become an intestate estate. As an intestate estate, none of the provisions of the Will you signed will matter. Instead, the State of North Dakota’s intestate succession laws will dictate what happens to your estate assets when you die.
- They Do Not Really Save Money (or time). It sounds great – “create your Last Will and Testament for $99” or something similar. In the end, however, you will spend considerably more and your loved ones may spend a small fortune down the road when it comes time to try and probate the Will you created. First, the advertised price is rarely the end price after all the “extras,” which are really necessities, are added in to the process. More importantly, if the document has errors, and/or is declared invalid, when the time comes to probate your estate, your loved ones will spend far more trying to fix the problems than you saved by using a DIY Will.
Your Last Will and Testament will likely be one of the most important documents you create and sign during the course of your life. Given that fact, does it really make sense to try and cut corners by using a DIY Will form? After you give that some thought, your answer will likely be “no.” Spending just a little bit more time and money now will ensure that your wishes are honored when you are gone and your loved ones do not get saddled with an enormous cost, both in terms of time and money, during the probate process.
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about DIY Wills in the State of North Dakota contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.