With the advent of websites dedicated to making legal documents accessible for everyone, you might be tempted to use one of these services rather than going through an estate planning lawyer. After all, if you can use Google, you can find a template for a will almost instantly. Why should you get a lawyer’s help to draft your will when you can do it yourself, probably for free?
Estate planning lawyers often deal with the misconception that just because someone can read and write reasonably well, that they can successfully create a legal document, especially one as important to their family’s future as their own Last Will and Testament.
Why should I get legal help?
It is worth remembering that you won’t be there to explain to friends and family members exactly what you meant when you wrote your own will—meaning that any confusion resulting from a vague statement or a poor choice of words could end up in court, costing your loved ones time and money. When wills are probated, the court does what it can to determine the true wishes of the decedent who created the will and to follow them as closely as possible. However, when something in a self-created will is ambiguous, family members often end up taking sides and litigating to reach a decision, resulting in a painful and contentious process. You may have thought your wording was simple enough and easy to understand, but if there is a misunderstanding, you won’t be able to correct it.
What’s the worst that could happen?
At worst, your will could be denied probate, which would then result in your estate being distributed according to existing laws as if no will had been present. Typically, this means your surviving spouse would share your estate with any children, who would receive equal shares. This means your wishes regarding giving specific amounts of money and sentimental keepsakes to your loved ones would go unacknowledged.
Also, any monetary donations you made to charities or special considerations for friends would fail to be recognized. Children or relatives with special needs could lose the assets you intended for them to inherit if there is no supplemental needs trust in place to protect those holdings. Consulting a trustworthy probate lawyer as you begin the estate planning process will help you to ensure that vulnerable relatives are cared for.
Another sticking point to consider is that a DIY will does not have the protection it would receive from the rite of due execution when your will is witnessed and supervised by a licensed attorney. Finding an estate planning lawyer in your area to help you with your will is not prohibitively expensive for most people, and it could prevent major headaches for your family members in the future.
For help drafting a will that is sure to ensure that your wishes get carried out, contact Queens probate lawyer Richard Cary Spivack today, and take the next step with confidence.