You probably already recognize the need to have at least a basic estate plan in place; however, like over half of all Americans you may not have gotten around to actually creating one yet. For most people, an estate plan starts with creating a Last Will and Testament. If you are ready to get started on your Will, you might be wondering if you really need an estate planning attorney to help you or if you can save some money by just going the “Do-It-Yourself” route. Although it may seem as though the DIY route can save you time and money, the reality is that creating a Will without the assistance of an attorney inevitably backfires when it comes time to actually probate your estate.
Your Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament serves as the foundation for most estate plans because it allows you to accomplish the most basic of all estate planning goals. Your Will is effectively a roadmap for the distribution of your estate assets in the event of your death. By executing a Will, you ensure that your estate is not distributed according to the state intestate succession laws which typically distribute assets to close family members only. Executing a Will lets you decide who will receive your family heirlooms, personal property, and any other estate assets you own at the time of your death. In addition, when you execute a Will you appoint someone to be the Executor of your estate. Do not make the mistake of minimizing the importance of your Executor as he/she is the person who will be responsible for overseeing the administration of your estate during the probate process after you are gone. Finally, your Will allows you to do one other extremely important thing – nominate someone to be a Guardian for your minor children should one ever be needed. In short, your Last Will and Testament will undoubtedly be one of the most important documents you create over the course of your life.
Why Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney?
The pervasive nature of the internet, and our dependence on it as a society, may tempt you to try the DIY route when you get ready to create your Will. After all, you can find just about anything on the internet, including a wide variety of “Fill-in-the-blank” legal forms. The fact that these forms exist, however, does not mean it is a good idea to use them. There is simply no substitute for professional advice and guidance when it comes to something as important as your Will. Would you try and perform surgery on yourself without the assistance of a surgeon after watching a “how-to” video on the internet? Of course not. Why then, would you try and create your Will without the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney?
The Risks of Going the DIY Route
Using a DIY form you found on the internet instead of working with an experienced estate planning attorney may save you some time and money now; however, it is very likely to cost your loved ones considerably more time and money down the road. A DIY Will is likely to be riddled with errors and omissions, include inaccurate or out of date information, and may not completely dispose of your entire estate. As you will no longer be around to explain vague or confusing provisions, nor to correct mistakes you may have made, in your Will, The end result is often the need for protracted, and costly, litigation that drains your estate of value and keeps your gifts out of the hands of your intended beneficiaries until the litigation reaches a conclusion. The only way to ensure that this does not happen to your estate after you are gone is to work with an experienced estate planning attorney when you create your estate plan.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney
For more information, please sign up for one of our upcoming FREE seminars. If you have additional questions or concerns about creating your Last Will and Testament, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331 to schedule an appointment.