Every so often, a “Do It Yourself” (DIY) will comes across my desk. Whenever this happens, I always ask myself, “Why do people continue to try to draft wills without qualified legal guidance?”
Although drafting a will might look like a relatively easy task, the truth is, it is far more complicated than most people realize. There are tons of DIY forms for wills that you can find out there that often throw around appealing phrases, such as “A Simple Will.” This leads unwary parties to believe that anyone can draft legal documents that will stand up in court. However, I can tell you from firsthand experience that drafting a will and other important estate planning documents is not a simple task.
I know, I am a lawyer, and you may already be telling yourself, “Of course she’s going to advocate for lawyer created wills, she is one!” And while it is true, I am an estate planning lawyer, the reasons I suggest clients seek legal guidance when drafting their wills are not the reasons you may think.
In my work, I come across all kinds of self-made wills. Most were created by other lawyers, but some are homemade. Of those that were homemade ones, some were actually pretty good! But then the others… well, they were significantly flawed.
When DIY Wills Fail
At Hill & Kinsella, our experienced lawyers have dealt with poorly prepared self-made wills after a person passes away that end up costing their estates lots of extra time and money. This usually occurs because the decedent didn’t have a clear understanding of the legal process or wasn’t equipped with all of the right legal documents to make a strong plan estate plan that will ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes.
Sometimes, forgetting to include a small piece of information in a self-made will can have major legal repercussions. When a decedent is missing important information, it requires us to perform all sorts of additional legal work, including filing petitions, attending hearings, and asking judges for decisions. All of that extra work, often in probate court, could have been easily avoided if the will was properly drafted and executed by a seasoned estate planning attorney.
That’s what happened with Joe. He didn’t want to go to a lawyer because he thought it would be smarter to save money by preparing a homade will with help from a friend who used to work in a law office. In Joe’s case, he wanted to disinherit someone. But when he wrote his will, he used conflicting language. The result was many extra attorneys and court hours (charged to the estate) to sort through and determine whether Joe’s wishes would be followed. Eventually, a judge, not Joe, decided whether to disinherit that person.
Consult with a Dedicated & Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer Today
We often tell people, yes, you may save a little money up-front by preparing your own will. But, it may cost your beneficiaries that amount, multiplied over many times, to sort out all of your affairs. Not only that, but your beneficiaries could end up waiting longer than needed to receive their inheritance. So, it can truly become a “pay later” situation if you don’t have the right legal protections go with a self-made will.
Our lawyers at Hill & Kinsella believe every estate plan should involve an interview with knowledgeable legal professionals who have years of experience in this area of the law. Our lawyers are here to meet with you and prepare a will and other legal documents that are specifically tailored to your unique situation and needs.
If you want to save your loved ones and beneficiaries money and sleepless nights after you pass away, then please give us a call at (727) 240-2350 today to request your consultation with a member of our legal team.
By, April Hill