10Like most people, you have probably listened to well-meaning family and friends tell you how important it is to have a Last Will and Testament in place. Also like many people, you may have put off creating yours for a number of reasons. Some people are convinced they don’t have a valuable enough estate to warrant executing a Will while others putt off creating their Will because of the perceived time and expense involved. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads people to turn to “Do-It-Yourself” options for creating a Will. Using a DIY Will form, however, comes with a high risk for errors or omissions that will ultimately cost your loved ones considerably more time and money than it would cost you to get help creating a Will in the first place. Working with an experienced Missouri estate planning attorney is a much better way to get help creating a Will.
Common Myths about Wills
Estate planning is one of those endeavors that is both very private, and not often the subject of conversation at social events. Consequently, the average person doesn’t really know much about estate planning until they sit down to create an estate plan. For most people, a Last Will and Testament serves as the foundation of their estate plan. Unfortunately, there are a number of myths and misconceptions surrounding Wills that often cause people to put off creating their Will or that result in creating a Will riddled with problems. The biggest, and most troublesome, of these is that a Will is not necessary unless you have a valuable and/or complex estate. If you die without a valid Will in place, you are essentially giving the State of Missouri the right to decide what happens to the assets you own at the time of your death. Just a few of the most common unintended consequences of dying intestate (without a Will) include:
- An estranged spouse inherits most, or all, of your estate
- Promises made to family members or friends are not honored
- The last person you would ever choose ends up administering your estate.
- The person you would want to be appointed Guardian of your minor children is not even considered by the court.
- Litigation over the estate diminishes the value of the estate to the point where there is virtually nothing left to distribute.
What Happens When You Create a Will Without Help?
By now, the importance of creating a Will should be clear; however, it is equally important to understand why you don’t want to create a Will without help. All too often, when the importance of creating a Will finally sinks in, people decide to go the DIY route in a rush to get their Will executed quickly and economically. Quick and easy, however, frequently turns into time consuming and costly when it is time to probate the estate. Creating a Will without professional help can be compared to trying to perform minor surgery on yourself using a DIY video you watched on the internet. The potential problems are endless; however, some common problems you may find in a Will created using a DIY form include a Will that:
- Fails to dispose of the entire estate, causing the need for intestate estate administration.
- Is not properly executed, invalidating the Will entirely.
- Does not include state specific language or includes vague language, making the Will difficult to interpret and ripe for litigation.
- Is based on out of date laws or procedures, also causing the Will to be open to challenges.
Working with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney When Creating a Will
Although it may sound like a great way to save time and money, using a DIY Will form instead of working with an experienced estate planning attorney often ends up costing much more – both in terms of time and money – down the road than you saved by going the DIY route. Worse still, it will be your loved ones who pay the price for your failure to work with an attorney when creating your Will. The primary reason for creating a Will is usually to ensure that your estate assets – whether modest or extravagant — will be given to the people you care about when you are gone. The best way to make sure you achieve that goal is to work closely with an experienced Missouri estate planning attorney when creating your Last Will and Testament.
If you have additional questions or concerns about creating a Will, or if you are ready to get started creating your Last Will and Testament, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.