Like over half of all Americans, you may be aware of the importance of having an estate plan in place, yet you have still not gotten around to creating one. In fact, you haven’t even executed a Last Will and Testament yet. In today’s electronic age, it can be very tempting to rectify that by turning to a “Do-It-Yourself” Will form you find on the internet. After all, using a DIY form would save you money and time, right? The reality is that while a DIY Will form might appear to save you time and money in the short run, your loved ones are likely to pay the price in the long-run. To help you understand why using a DIY Will form is such a bad idea, a Los Angeles estate planning lawyer explains the dangers inherent in using DIY Wills.
DIY Legal Forms – Why You Should Steer Clear
With the rise of the internet, people across the world now do everything from communicating with far away loved ones to banking to research using their computer or smartphone. You can find almost anything on the internet, including DIY legal forms. Just because you can find something on the internet, however, doesn’t mean you should use what you find. This is particularly sage advice when it comes to legal forms. Consider the following common problems encountered when someone uses a DIY Will:
- Failure to distribute the entire estate – one of the most common problems with a DIY Will is the 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- Out of date language or law – most DIY Last Will and Testament forms have been floating around the internet for years.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 If the language used in the form is out of date it will almost certainly prompt litigation.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.
Why Your Loved Ones Will Pay for Your Mistake
The biggest problem with using a DIY Last Will and Testament is that you cannot “fix” the problem once it becomes a problem. Your Will, after all, doesn’t become relevant until your death. Consequently, it will be your loved ones who are faced with the problems your DIY creates. Those problems could easily lead to costly, and time-consuming litigation. That litigation might even create conflict within your family as people take sides. Of course, by then you will not be around to clarify anything or change anything in your Will. Ultimately, it will be your loved ones who pay the price.
For more information, please join us for one of our upcoming free seminars. If you have additional questions or concerns about conservatorship in the State of California, contact the Collins Law Firm by calling (310) 677-9787 0r Click Here reserve for a Free Estate Planning Workshop.