Creating online legal documents is becoming more and more common. Despite the convenience of creating a Will without the expense and hassle of meeting with an attorney, there are many pitfalls to creating a simple plan online or even with a more traditional attorney who is just “filling in the blanks” of an already created document.
At Edwards Group, unfortunately, we deal with the problems that arise from simple fill-in-the-blank Wills everyday.
Here are 7 risks of a simple will that you need to consider:
1. Long, expensive probate. Wills are designed to go through probate. The extra expense, delay, and public exposure that go with a court probate process may be avoided when other estate planning tools are used in connection with a Will. Depending on the unique family circumstances that only you know about, avoiding probate may be a good goal to have. An experienced attorney with a comprehensive approach can help you know if avoiding probate should be a priority for you and your family.
2. Unprotected assets. Many Wills do not have adequate provisions for protecting the inheritance you leave your loved ones. Risks such as future divorces, lawsuits, warring siblings, and future financial struggles of your heirs can be mitigated with proper planning ahead of time. Experienced attorneys who practice comprehensive planning can help identify what risks your family may face.
3. Problem executor. Is the executor you chose in your Will the best person for the job? Circumstances can change. Will the responsibility be a struggle for them because of a busy schedule, lack of attention to detail, or inexperience? Our process helps our clients choose the best person for the job, and then keeps the choices updated.
4. Lack of coordination. Is your simple will coordinated with ALL of your beneficiary designations, joint ownership and account titling? Unless you are very intentional about your financial organization, the way you have set up accounts and insurance policies could undo the wishes stated in your Will. It can also cost your loved ones huge amounts of time and money to sort out.
5. Unexpected change in outcome. Have your life circumstances changed since your Will was drafted? Have you gotten married, divorced, had children or grandchildren since your last will was drawn up? Is your wealth greater or less than it was before? If so, any of these factors can impact how things will play out if your old or simple will has to be used. I have even seen grandchildren not get an inheritance that other grandchildren received because of this very thing.
6. Nothing left. Have you planned for possible nursing home costs? Even if your old will if okay right now, your wishes could be undone if high nursing home costs eat up most or all of your savings prior to your death. There is a lot that an experienced elder law and estate planning attorney can do for this situation.
7. Doesn’t do what you think it will. Laws change frequently. If there have been changes to the law (or even the tax law) since the drafting of your will, this can cause complications or unintended consequences.
The traditional way of preparing a will is oftentimes ineffective. Sadly, many people don’t find this out until it’s too late — and they’ve literally lost the family farm or fishing cabin. Here at Edwards Group, we don’t just fill in the blanks of a boilerplate document. Our process was designed to overcome the pitfalls of traditional planning.
If you’d like to read more about our unique process and how it protects our clients and their loved ones, click here. If you’re ready to schedule your Initial Meeting and get started with effective, comprehensive planning, give us a call at 217-726-9200.