We all hear those commercials on the radio about doing your own will online.
These commercials make writing your own will seem like an easy way to get your affairs in order. But it’s not as simple as it seems and there’s no substitute for proper advice from a qualified lawyer, even if you think your affairs are straightforward.
What appears to be a cost-effective solution all too often ends up turning into a financial and emotional nightmare when your self made will turn out to be invalid.
That’s why we put the following list of reasons why you should seek legal advice on preparing a will:
- Your affairs are more complex than you think – Drafting a will can be complicated, no matter the size of the estate. Put young children into the equation and more intricacies are involved.
- Your words can be misconstrued – Using your own words rather than legal terminology might create ambiguity.
- You can have more control over who you exclude – If you decide to omit someone from your will, it might not be as simple as making a statement in the will regarding the person and reason.
- More control over your wishes – Allegations of duress or mental incapacity in relation to your will after you die will generally be more difficult to claim if a lawyer was engaged in the will-making process.
- You’ll receive advice on who is the best executor and trustee – Receiving advice in relation to the role of the executor of your will is important. Simply appointing a family member is not necessarily appropriate.
- Your beneficiaries may be better off – A properly drafted will can create tax and asset-protection advantages for beneficiaries. A carefully drawn estate plan can minimize estate taxes, especially on the first spouse’s death, and to reduce the tax on assets passing to children or other beneficiaries.
- Set up charitable giving – You can make a difference to your community by making a gift to charity in your will. A lawyer can help you leverage your generosity through proper planning and the use of charitable giving strategies.
At Gedeon Law & CPA, we counsel clients that a will is just one part of having a proper estate plan in place. As such, we regularly include the following documents in our clients estate plan:
Beneficiary Designation – this form is used for life insurance, annuities, IRA and other qualified retirement plan accounts. Appropriate beneficiary designations are critical to coordinating payment of these assets with the rest of your estate plan. For example, if you name a child as beneficiary of your IRA, the account documents may not allow the account to be distributed to a minor. So someone would then have to seek court approval prior to releasing funds to your child.
Living Trust – this helps ensure that your assets will be managed according to your wishes. With a living trust, your assets (your home, bank accounts and stocks, for example) are put into the trust, administered by you for your benefit during your lifetime, and then transferred to your beneficiaries when you die. Moreover, it avoids costly probate fees on your death.
Durable Power of Attorney – allows you to name an agent to manage your assets and affairs during your lifetime if you become incapacitated or disabled.
Advance Directive for Healthcare – a proxy directive giving someone the power to make healthcare decisions for you if you can’t make those decisions for yourself.
Using a lawyer to prepare your will and advise you on estate planning is a small price to pay to protect your wealth and ensure your wishes are adhered to after you pass away. Contact Gedeon Law & CPA today to schedule a consultation to discuss your specific situation.