the real/estate blog


Why a lawyer is your friend

Posted in Estate Planning,Will kits by Cesia Green on November 13, 2012
Tags: ,

I’ve posted before about the value of using a lawyer over a will kit, but here are some more reasons if you need them.

Lawyers:

  • Listen to your goals and make sure they are reflected in your documents.
  • Offer advice on structuring your assets beyond just the will.
  • Are able to give referrals to other complementary professionals.
  • Make sure that your documents are properly signed and witnessed.
  • Make sure that you own your assets in the way that you think you do.

If you need more reasons, Forbes posted this article last year on why you should hire a professional. The author lists a number of additional reasons to have a lawyer draft your will, from making sure there are no errors, to avoiding misleading or confusing wording, to presuming that things will happen a certain way when they might be the opposite.

My posts on this topic are clearly self-serving; ultimately, I want to have people hire me to draft their wills. At the same time, I have seen too many estates go wrong in my estate administration practice to not say anything simply because it may be self-serving. You don’t have to hire me to draft your will. You should hire someone – and that someone should have will drafting as a regular part of their practice.

(Thank you to Greg Herman-Giddens at the North Carolina Estate Planning Blog and Gerry Beyer at the Wills, Trusts and Estates Prof Blog for their blogs on this topic.)

How much is your estate plan worth?

Posted in Estate Planning,Will kits by Cesia Green on July 19, 2011

I subscribe to Groupon and WagJag for group buying deals. I’ve gotten some good ones – detailing for my car, gift certificates to some of my favourite restaurants, even video-to-DVD transfer so I can finally watch myself learn how to scuba dive. However, I was more than a little surprised to see a deal one day for 51% off will preparation. Curious, I clicked on the deal, expecting that some enterprising lawyer had offered a discount off their services, and found that the deal was for a will from a website – regular value, $49.

As an estates lawyer, I know that I am biased against kits. That being said, I truly believe that estates is an area of law that is far too complicated to leave to a fill-in-the-blank form. Most of my clients tell me, after our initial meeting, that they no longer believe their estates are simple. This is because most people’s estates are not simple. There is always something that makes your estate unique, and requires some planning beyond what a will kit can do.

Bruce La Rochelle blogged about this issue a short time ago; Gerry Beyer at the Wills, Trusts and Estates Prof Blog did as well. There are so many potential pitfalls in preparing your own will by using a form that it is never something I would recommend, even if I did not practice in this area.

Think about your own situation. Have you been married before? Do you have children? Do you support parents or other relatives? Do you have pets you want cared for? Have you thought about what you want done with your social networking and other online accounts? Have you thought about compensation for your executors? Have you adequately protected your estate from creditors? How about from former spouses of beneficiaries? If your situation is even a tiny bit outside of the cookie cutter norm, you should consider it worth the cost of having a properly drafted will.