You want a will. That is a great decision many Americans put off for far too long. But if you plan to write your will on your own or use an online form, there are 5 reasons why you should reconsider.
If you decide to use a professional to draft your final will and testament, contact the attorneys at Simmons & Associates. We have substantial experience in helping Oklahoma families with our comprehensive estate planning services.
Reason 1: Generic DIY Forms
Your life, your assets, your loved ones, and your wishes are unique. DIY providers offer templates to be used by anyone. Generic forms cannot adequately meet your distinct objectives. An online form cannot provide legal advice or advise you on the impacts of your decisions. Some determinations are best made with the help of a legal mind.
Reason 2: Unintended Tax Implications
Laws that affect inheritance and other estate issues change. Without knowing state and federal laws, you could unintentionally set up your heirs to pay hefty taxes upon your death. This is undoubtedly not what you intended. An attorney stays informed on the latest updates to estate taxes, probate, and inheritance taxes that apply to their clients.
Reason 3: Ambiguous Wording
Have you ever written something you thought was clear only to have someone misinterpret your words? In many cases, the confusion can be cleared up but that will not be the case in your will. An unclear will may create problems in the probate process and lead to disputes among your heirs. The court can construe your will in a way you would not have wanted and award property to the wrong individuals. An attorney can ensure the will contains no potential double-meanings or vagueness.
Reason 4: Deemed Invalid in Court
State law has requirements that must be met in order for a will to be deemed valid. A will that is not signed, dated, and witnessed properly can be invalidated. Parts of a will can also be invalidated. If one of the witnesses to the will is also bequeathed property, they can be denied that property.
If a court determines that the will is invalid, that is essentially the same as never having one. You are considered to have died without a will. Your estate is subject to the laws of intestate succession. Property is distributed according to the rules, not by your wishes.
Reason 5: Costly Mistakes
Some mistakes can be particularly costly and not just financially. If you have minor children, your will should name a guardian for them in the event of your death (and the other parent). Not doing so can set up a legal fight among relatives on who should become the children’s guardian. If there are no other family members, your children could be thrown into the state’s foster care system.
Wills are often created with the idea that doing so will help avoid probate. If real estate is not put into a trust or by using a Transfer on Death Deed, the person receiving the property will have to go through probate at a significant cost.
Lives change and so should wills. Divorces, adoptions, births of children, and other life-changing events precipitate the need to make changes to your will. Not doing so will inadvertently leave someone out or include someone.
Ensure Your Will Meets Your Goals
Effective wills should be more than a list of who receives what property. With the help of a seasoned attorney from Simmons & Associates, you will have the peace of mind that your last will and testament stands up against legal challenges and provides for your loved ones as you directed. Our team can also evaluate whether other tools – trusts and powers of attorney – should be a part of a comprehensive estate plan.
Schedule a consultation to discuss creating or revising your will or other estate plan tools. Contact us online or call (405) 591-2284.