The Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Wills
Every day I work with clients to prepare their Wills, Estate Plans, Trusts, Disability Planning, QPRTs, etc. I’d like to think that my clients find my work has value in that more of their wealth is protected from estate taxes, creditors and lawsuits.
When people ask me what I think about online do-it-yourself Wills, my immediate response is: don’t do it. With my experience, not only in estate planning but also probate litigation, Will contests and trust litigation, I have seen how these do-it-yourself Wills go horribly wrong.
I cannot unequivocally say that a do-it-yourself Will does not work. There may be certain situations it works just fine. But, as the Will won’t take effect until after your death, you won’t know if it worked. If it does not work, your loved ones will suffer the consequences.
With that said, congratulations! You took the first step and decided to get your Will done. What you do next is completely up to you; however there are a few things to consider:
Did you know that in the State of Texas, if your Will does not meet certain requirements, it may not be valid? The following reasons explain why it may be better to hire a lawyer rather than handling your Will yourself.
Trusts - Your Will may create trusts, to achieve your goals, protect your children, and incorporate tax planning and asset protection. These trusts can be difficult to set up properly without legal guidance to ensure your goals and objectives are actually met.
Minors - Your Will should protect your minor children and designate their guardians.
Formalities - These formalities include supervision of the execution of your Will, ensuring proper witnesses and notary are present, and ensuring all signatures and initials are proper. These formalities are best supervised by someone with legal experience.
Ancillary Documents - In addition to creating the proper Will, you need to determine if the ancillary documents are necessary. These include statutory durable power of attorney, durable power of attorney, directive to physician (living will), designation of guardian, designation of guardian for you minor children & a HIPAA authorization. An attorney will be able to advise you on these documents as well.
For more information on Wills & Estate Planning, request our free book, Do I Really Need a Will?
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