There are plenty of reasons people avoid or delay creating a Will – sickness, expense or the belief that they do not have assets to pass on. There is simply no good excuse for ignoring what may be the most important legal document in your life. These five very common “do-it-yourself” mistakes are among the top reasons to seek the guidance of a qualified Elder Law attorney when creating your Will.
1. “Do-it-yourself” Wills are difficult to execute
Wills are far more complicated than simply stating, “I, John Smith, being of sound mind and body do formally set forth my last Will and Testament.” Often, home-made Wills are difficult or even impossible to execute because although an Executor is named, they are not necessarily granted rights to fully manage the estate and fulfill obligations. In many cases, not naming an alternative Executor can cause problems when the original choice is unable or unwilling to administer the Will at the time of death.
2. Gifts and bequests can be easily contested
A parent may leave the family home to an only child, but what about the contents and any vehicles on the property? Unless specified in the Will, others may attempt to make claims on those items. Or, a Will may specify an adult child receives the house and all its contents, but then leaves no directions regarding payment of insurance, taxes or maintenance associated with the property.
3. Home-made Wills are not “life-proof”
We all make assumptions about the future. Husbands believe they will outlive their wives. Children plan to outlive their parents. We think assets that exist today will still exist tomorrow. A strong Will plans beyond the assumed, so if there is an unexpected illness, a car accident or a natural disaster that destroys property, then loved ones and existing financial assets are still protected. Elder Law attorneys are trained and experienced in identifying those potential challenges and creating solutions to overcome them within a Will.
4. Your assets are not protected
Government benefit laws are complicated and even non-Elder Law attorneys face difficulties navigating them. Simply stating who receives what in a Will does not prevent a disabled child from being kicked off of their benefits due to an inheritance or from creditors collecting on assets. Your Will needs strategies and a plan so that you have the peace of mind that your family is protected.
5. One-size-fits-all does not fit all
Online “templates” often do not consider your state’s laws regarding inheritance, Long-Term Care, trusts and other matters. What works in another state may not satisfy laws in Washington or Idaho. Your family and loved ones could encounter substantial difficulties inheriting assets according to your wishes.
If you would like to learn more about how to plan now for your future and protect your assets, call our office today. We would be delighted to speak with you.