Truth be told, we don’t really think about writing our own will. It’s not challenging, especially if you don’t own many properties.
However, it’s all a lot more complicated when you have minor children that won’t be able to own your properties. Should that be the situation for you, you may have to name a person to care for the inheritance for your kids. Let's not forget that you also need to nominate someone to care for your children when you die.
You cannot just go ahead and write your own will. There are specific laws that differ from one state to another. As you can see, there are plenty of things involved in the picture, so writing your own will becomes quite the task even if you have the online programs for guidance.
Does everyone need a will?
Regardless of what you may think, you don't need to own acres of land for having to make a will. It doesn't matter how much money you have, and it's always wise to make sure that all of your belongings will get to the persons you wish or your family. Should you also own a business, the will is going to ease out the transition of the assets as well.
But it’s not only personal belongings and properties that you have to take care of. When you have children, you cannot do without a will, as it’s going to let you decide on your kid’s legal guardian. It's something you must do if your children are minors when you pass away.
When you’re using a will, you can also establish an executor. It’s a person that you trust and give authority to make sure that all your demands are accomplished when you’re gone. The executor will seek that all of your affairs are in order. He/she can pay off bills for you and even cancel the credit cards.
Some people choose not to have a will, but it’s going to be the court making the decisions on their behalf. It’s a long and complicated process. It's not that you're not optimistic when writing your own will. However, should you die all of a sudden, it’s a wise thing to have it. You don't want to add confusion and anxiety to your family, who is already dealing with pain and intense emotion.
Is the lawyer necessary?
Legal software is the easiest way to create and prepare a will, most of the time. It's also possible to create a Financial Power of Attorney, Bypass Trust, Living Will, and Living Trust when using the software.
Should your belongings be more complicated and the software seems unreliable for making a will, it's better that you talk to an estate attorney. A financial planner or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) also makes safe options.
There’s only so much variety when it comes to estate planning
The estate-planning computer software will generate will forms that are supposed to cover the most common needs. They are simple so that they comply with the laws of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It's also possible to find forms that are made specifically for specific states.
There's always the unfortunate situation where your loved ones remain with nothing once you die, and the will generated by the software doesn't cover the issues. We are all different, so it makes perfect sense that your needs are also different.
Long story short, you can have a will generated by the software, but only if you’re 100% sure that nothing about your belongings is complicated and tricky to solve. After all, it’s one thing to buy a casket (or decide on your favorite models), and entirely different when taking care of your assets after you’re gone.
The words are so powerful
You don't need to be rocket science to know that you can clear things/make them even blurry with terms. For instance, the court may decide a guardian for your children when you don't have any specifications on the matter. And when you have minor children, naming the guardian may be the most significant reason for which you're writing your will, to begin with.
It's also vital that you know precisely which of your assets need probate and which of them don't. Any asset that comes with specific beneficiaries of the rights of survivorship will not go through the probate process. Therefore, they will not be stated in your will. If so, you may end up spending a lot of money by trying to include them in the will and afterward pass them to persons that aren't stated as the beneficiary for the particular assets. Unfortunately, in some cases, you need to think about what will happen with your debts after die.
Don’t forget that you must use specific legal phrases and terms to make the will valid. Otherwise, it’s not going to be considered authentic.
Do you need to address the taxes as well?
More often than not, there are no estate taxes for the estates at the federal level. However, some states establish their estate and inheritance taxes, which differ from federal provisions.
The will is part of the estate plan, and you need to be prepared if the estate qualifies for inheritance/estate taxes at some point. You should address the problem right from the start and eliminate them, if possible. When you’re not an attorney, you should consult one for taking the proper steps.
Take a good look at the carry disclaimers
It’s expected that books or software programs on estate planning include a disclaimer. Typically, it’s something like “ the program isn’t considered to be legal advice. It doesn’t replace legal advice. Should you care for legal advice, you must talk to an attorney.”
As you can see, even the books and programs suggest that you should look for professional advice and hire an estate planning attorney.
When you’re done with your will, you may very well have it checked by a professional for validity and precision.
There are so many laws to consider!
When it comes to estate taxes, inheritance taxes, gift taxes, or probate, there are numerous laws to consider. Don't forget about the lawful formalities that you will need to sign for validating the will. The state laws may impact the estate plan, especially when it comes to common-law marriages, anti-lapse statutes, putative spouse, homestead rights, the definition of descendants, and even community property.
It's not possible for a will that was generated by the software to cover all the state law particularities. Moreover, there are changes in the legal system all the time. Some are being replaced, others are being repealed, so it's difficult for software to include the state-specific programs.
One last piece of advice
Are you capable of repairing your car? Even if you do it on your own and spare a buck now, it may not work in the long run. You may end up paying more.
It’s the same for the estate planning when trying to cut corners. Unless you work in the estate business, it’s going to be impossible to cover all the details in your will. All in all, it’s wise that you hire a professional and spend a bit more now and not a ton later.
Blog Author: Tim