Have you put off creating and executing a Last Will and Testament despite knowing how important it is for you to do so? If so, you are hardly alone. Surveys indicate that about half of all Americans do not have an estate plan in place. People offer an endless number of explanations for why they have yet to even execute a Will; however, one of the most common reasons people give is that they don’t know where to start or where to turn for help. If you are one of those people, do not make the mistake many people make of trying to create your Will yourself using a “Do-It-Yourself” form you found online or at a local office supply store. Instead, spend the time and money to have an experienced Missouri estate planning attorney help you with preparing a Will. Once you understand the risks of going the DIY route better you will also understand why turning to an experienced estate planning attorney for help in preparing a Will is worth the time and money.
Why Is It So Important to Have a Will in Place?
If you are young, the possibility of your death likely seems far off and outside the realm of current concerns. In all probability, you are correct; however, none of us knows when tragedy could strike. The reality is that, although unlikely, you could be killed tomorrow. If that happens, what will happen to your estate assets? Who will take care of your children (if you have any yet?) Who will oversee the probate of your estate? Absent a valid Last Will and Testament, the answers to these questions remain unknown and will likely be decided by a judge. Without a Will, your estate assets will be distributed using the Missouri intestate succession laws, likely meaning your assets will not be given to the people you would have chosen. If you have minor children, your Will is your only opportunity to tell a judge who you would want to be appointed as the Guardian for your children if one is needed. Finally, without someone being appointed Executor in your Will, any adult can volunteer to oversee the probate of your estate.
Why Can’t You Just Use a DIY Form?
It may seem like a simple solution, but using a DIY form you downloaded off the internet or purchased at a local store will, more often than not, end up costing your loved ones far more time and money than you save by not turning to an experienced estate planning attorney for help. Among the many problems you may have with a DIY Last Will and Testament form include:
- Language is out of date
- Form is not state specific
- May not adequately dispose of your entire estate
- Does not prompt you to name a Guardian
- Does not include successors for roles such as Executor or Guardian
- Does not require proper execution of the form
- Cannot provide you with advice on important decisions you will need to make when filling out the form
- Cannot tell you if additional documents are needed or advisable, such as a trust agreement
If your Will is deficient, and eventually found to be invalid, none of the decisions you made will be honored; however, your estate’s value will be significantly diminished after the expenses involved in litigating the validity of the Will.
How Can a Missouri Estate Planning Attorney Help?
A Missouri estate planning attorney understands the law and how to translate your wishes into legal requirements. Like many people, you may be concerned that you cannot afford to have an attorney help you with your Will; however, the truth is that you cannot afford not to have an attorney help you if you want to create a document that will actually stand up to a challenge in court. Moreover, by having a Missouri estate planning attorney help you with your Will you will be able to find out if additional estate planning tools and/or strategies might be helpful in achieving your goals and objectives.
For more information about preparing a Will, please join us for one of our upcoming free seminars. If you have additional questions or concerns about preparing your Will you can also, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.