The matter of estate planning is unique in a sense because it involves a process that few people ever participate in directly other than probate lawyers. For this reason delving into your DIY passions when it comes to will creation is probably not a good idea. Your will is going to have to pass through the process of probate, which makes it very difficult for the uninitiated to effectively draw up homemade wills because they have no experience dealing with the probate or surrogate court.
Most people recognize the fact that estate planning, when done correctly, involves a number of components in addition to the standard will. When you consult with an elder law attorney he or she will listen as you state your wishes, examine your overall financial situation, and advise you accordingly. You may benefit from the creation of a legal instrument that you hadn’t considered, like a living trust, for instance. So if you were to “risk it” with a homemade will, you would never learn about more comprehensive estate planning strategies that could be very advantageous to you.
Tapping into this broader outlook is one reason to consult with a probate lawyer to assist in the creation of your will. But another reason why it is not advisable to “go it alone” is the simple fact that a will is an important legal document with serious ramifications for you and your family. It is going to be administered though the probate court, and its validity will have to be determined. Interested parties may contest the will, and there could be claims made against the estate during probate. Contingencies must also be addressed during the original drafting.
Are you prepared to create an iron-clad legal document that addresses every possible probate scenario? If the answer is no, as it would be for about 99% of the population, you would do well to consult with an estate planning attorney rather than trying to put together a will on your own.
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