People spend a lifetime acquiring property, buying nice things, raising a family and educating them, building a nice life with their spouse. Then one day they look around and think “I need to write a will so all my stuff goes to the people I want it to go to.” So they Google “will writing program” and click on the link that looks like it will do the job without too much trouble or work.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Even a relatively simple will can have requirements that may or may not be included in an online do-it-yourself (DIY) will writing program. And the DIY will may be just that: only a will. What if you need additional documents to protect your estate? And does it cover healthcare issues?
Problems With DIY Will Writing Services
You may run into some trouble with a DIY will. The problems you encounter could include these elements:
1. Not state-specific. In order to be valid, your will must be written in accordance with state-specific regulations and laws. The DIY programs may or may not include state-specific language and it is hard for a layman to determine what is missing if there is a problem.
2. Improper execution. A will must be written and executed using proper procedures. Not all DIY forms explain what your state requires. Also, the language and law in the DIY service may not have been updated for some time.
3. Failure to distribute the entire estate. If any assets are left out of the will, they may trigger an intestate estate proceeding, which can be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming for your heirs to resolve.
4. What an Estate Planning Attorney Can Do For You When You Write a Will
Estate planning for even small estates can be complex and detailed. For one thing, you may think you simply need a will that distributes your assets to the proper people, including family members. But the reality is that the will is likely going to be only one of the documents you need for proper estate planning.
For example, an estate planning attorney may review your assets and your list of beneficiaries and decide that creating trusts will optimize your tax planning and preserve the value of your assets. Just getting good advice regarding tax planning can justify the expense of hiring a lawyer. A good lawyer will have technical knowledge, such as how to distinguish between probate and non-probate assets.
Not all the benefit of working with an estate planning attorney is about assets. People with special needs children will need an attorney who can write a trust that can meet the child’s needs into the future. They can also write advanced healthcare directives.
You get none of this if you write a DIY will. That will may have the basics, but working with an attorney will give you the opportunity to talk with an expert who can write the best will and create the best estate plan for you and your family. Call The Law Offices of Stephanie Hon at 512-334-6725 to discuss your estate planning needs and get the documents you need to protect your loved ones.