In the age of the internet, it is easy to locate online legal forms such as Do-It-Yourself (“DIY”) Wills and other estate planning instruments. Some people think that using a DIY Will form can save you both time and money. But there’s a catch – your loved ones may pay the price for your shortcut because of the common problems with DIY Wills.
Common Problems with DIY Wills:
It may be tempting to download a form Last Will and Testament, fill in the blanks, and call it a day. Doing that probably seems like you are saving time and money. That may be true for right now, but in reality, there may be a heavy price to pay down the road, and your loved ones will pay that price.
Remember – a Last Will and Testament isn’t really tested until after you pass away. At that point, you are no longer around to fix any problems that may come upon, and there is a good chance there will be problems. Common problems of DIY forms include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Failure to distribute the entire estate – one of the most common problems that arises is the document fails to distribute the entire estate. In that case, additional probate proceedings may be required. For instance, an intestate succession may be needed to determine who inherits the assets not handled by the Will.
2. Outdated language or law – Many DIY Will forms have been floating around the internet for years. But laws change frequently, so the applicable laws for a Will may have changed since the DIY form was created. If that happens, some of the language in the form, or possibly the entire form, could be stale or ineffective.
3. Not state-specific – many of the laws that govern wills and estates are state laws. For this reason, a Will must be state-specific to ensure it is valid. Many DIY forms, however, are generic and do not include state-specific considerations.
4. Failed interaction between documents – using one DIY legal form is dangerous. Using multiple DIY forms is likely to result in disaster. Each instrument is created to address a different aspect of your estate plan. But DIY forms don’t always refer to other instruments properly. To make sure your estate planning instruments truly work together as a whole experienced legal advice is key.
5. Improper execution – for a Will to be valid, it must be executed using the proper procedure. For example, neutral, disinterested witnesses or a notary may need to sign the Will. The rules for signing are different for every state, so a generic form doesn’t always work.
To avoid common problems with DIY estate plans, contact the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at The Mendel Law Firm, L.P.
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