Why Shouldn’t I Make My Own Will?
Legal software programs, do-it-yourself websites, and pre-printed paper wills are quick and easy ways to make a will. So why hire a lawyer?
The laws that govern who gets your money when you are gone are strict. It won’t be difficult for the judge to order your house sold, your car sold, and the liquid cash to be divided equally. Step-children, common-law spouses, and close friends won’t see a dime.
If you own a house, you want a professionally written will. Real estate carries significant value and it is easily sold by orders of a judge. Your home, however, probably carries the greatest sentimental value for you and your family. If your cousin was living there with you for the last twenty years, and you want him to have the house (or have the option to buy the house), you need to clearly state that in the will. Without a well-written will, the house will go to legal next of kin.
A probate judge won’t waste time considering a non-standard family. We don’t live in a simple world of one spouse and a two kids. Today, people marry, re-marry, live with unmarried partners, etc. Children come in all forms – half-siblings, adopted step-children, step-grandchildren, ex-daughters-in-law, frozen fertilized eggs, etc. A lawyer will help you create a will that properly dictates who gets what when you die.
Then there are the details. Have you verified the current, legal names of the people you intend to inherit your assets? Is everyone of legal age and what happens if you die and a minor inherits money? Have you chosen the right person to execute your wishes?
If the details of your will are not specific and correct, there may be a lengthy and costly legal battle over your contested will. If your intended beneficiaries have to fight to get the money you left for them, a majority of that money can get eaten away by a battle with an embittered relative.
The lawyer will also help you create a comprehensive end-of-life plan. Life insurance, living wills, last will and testament, and trusts will all help to ensure the majority of your money goes to whom you wish and not into the hands of hospitals, angry family members, or the state government.