Like many people, you may have put off creating and executing a Last Will and Testament for any of a wide variety of common reasons. If you are now ready to get started on your Will you may be wondering if you really need an estate planning attorney to help you create your Will. Although it may be tempting to go the DIY route, in the long run, it can have disastrous consequences for your estate and for your loved ones.
Why You Need a Last Will and Testament
For most people, a Last Will and Testament serves as the foundation of their estate plan. As your estate and your family grow, you will likely add to your estate plan; however, in the beginning, your Will can accomplish several of the most important estate planning goals, including:
- Avoiding intestate secession administration – If you die without executing a Will, your estate will be distributed using the State of North Dakota intestate succession laws, meaning the State will decide who gets your assets instead of you deciding.
- Making gifts of estate assets to loved ones – you can make specific and general bequests in your Will. A specific bequest might include leaving your baseball card collection to your nephew whereas a general bequest would be if you left your nephew half of your estate assets.
- Appointing an Executor – after your death, your estate will likely need to go through the legal process known as probate. In your Will you appoint someone as the Executor of your estate. Your Executor will oversee the probate process from start to finish, often determining how effectively, and how efficiently, your estate is administered.
- Nominate a Guardian – if you have minor children, your only opportunity to tell a court who you would want to have legal guardianship over those children in the event one is needed is in your Will.
Why You Need an Estate Planning Attorney to Help with Your Will
In the 21st century, we all rely on the internet for just about everything. Need to know what the weather will be in another state next week? The internet can tell you. Looking for a custom made one of a kind gift? The internet is your best bet. Unfortunately, our reliance on the internet also extends to the use of DIY legal forms. Just because you are able to locate a form on the internet, however, doesn’t mean you should actually use it. On the contrary, relying on a DIY Will form you found on the internet is the d:
- Failure to distribute the entire estate – one of the most common problems with a DIY Will 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. Unfortunately, the language in many DIY Wills does just that – results in assets being left out, triggering the state’s intestate succession laws.
- Out of date language or law – most DIY Last Will and Testament 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. If the language used in the form is out of date it will almost certainly prompt litigation.
- Failed interaction between documents – using a DIY Will is problematic by itself; however, most people don’t stop there. Your estate planning documents must work in harmony with each other. The more DIY legal forms you try and use together, the higher the odds are that they will result in failure because you need experienced legal advice to accomplish this.
- Not state specific – many of the laws that govern wills and estates are state laws. For this reason, a Last Will and Testament must be state specific to ensure it will be valid. Many DIY forms, however, are generic and do not include state specific language and/or laws.
- Improper execution – for a Will to be valid, it must be executed using the proper procedures. Those procedures vary from one state to the next. A generic DIY Will form won’t explain how you need to execute the document to comply with your state’s laws.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney
If you have additional questions or concerns about getting started with your Last Will and Testament, contact an experienced North Dakota estate planning attorney at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.