In the age of the internet, it seems as though you can find just about anything with a few clicks of a mouse. Even “Do-It-Yourself” legal forms can be located easily on the internet. It may be very tempting to use these DIY forms to finally get started on your estate plan that you have been putting off. After all, using a DIY form would save you money and time, right? The reality is that while a DIY Last Will and Testament 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, an experienced estate planning lawyer explains why you need a lawyer to help you create even a simple Will.
Why a DIY Last Will and Testament Is Problematic
With the rise of the internet, people across the world now do everything online – from communicating with far away loved ones to banking to researching concerns, issues, and facts. 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 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- Out of date language or law – most DIY Last Will and Testament forms have been floating around the internet for years.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 If the language used in the form is out of date it will almost certainly prompt litigation.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.
- Lack of legal advice – despite assurances that some DIY legal documents come with the ability to ask an attorney for advice, there simply is no substitute for a lengthy in-person consultation with an attorney from your state who focuses his/her practice on estate planning.
How 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 the mistake you made by not working with an estate planning attorney when you created your Will.
Contact an Arizona or New Mexico Estate Planning Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about DIY estate planning forms, or you wish to get started creating your Will, contact the experienced Arizona and New Mexico estate planning attorneys at Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 to schedule your appointment today.