The Risks of Writing Your Own Will

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Most people are aware of the benefits of executing a will that outlines how to divide a person’s real and personal property after death. If one listens and reads the ads posted online or aired on radio or TV, creating an estate plan, and especially the execution of a will, is a simple process that only requires filling out standard forms to achieve the desired legal protection. This message promoting a do-it-yourself will may be particularly attractive to individuals that own just a few basic types of property because they do not see the need to invest the time and money required to hire an estate attorney, assuming any property will go to their spouse or children. In fact, these individuals may assume no will is necessary because of how little they own. However, there are issues that cannot be adequately addressed outside a will. Further, drafting a will without the advice of an experienced estate attorney can create unintended and negative consequences for loved ones when it is time to implement the will’s provisions. The straightforward process suggested by form wills leaves out the legal nuances that often have a big impact on families, and does not consider whether other estate planning options are better for particular families. A discussion of some of the pitfalls that can arise from form wills, and the other option that is frequently more advantageous, will follow below.

The Problem with Having No Will or Using a Form

Florida does have asset distribution system written into the law for individuals that die without leaving a will or other estate planning vehicle. The state will not take a deceased person’s property if heirs exist and can be located, but the law completely controls how property is divided, which could leave spouse or child with less than the deceased wanted. Additionally, without a will, there is no provision for guardianship over minor children or how the body should be treated. These are important issues that should not be left to others to decide, and often require more detailed instructions than what is offered in form wills. A form will could possibly do everything a person wants, but without the advice of an attorney, the outcome is not certain, and the person in control will not be around to correct any mistakes. Estate attorneys can also offer guidance on issues beyond preparing a will, such as how to medical decisions if one becomes incapacitated, a real concern as a person ages.

A Better Option

Everyone should have a basic will as a backup, but most people would be better served by creating a trust to act as main directive for asset distribution purposes. One’s heirs receive a greater amount because trusts are not required to go through probate, which takes a good of time to complete and can generate high costs. Many different types of trusts exist, and an experienced estate planning attorney can guide a person toward the one that would best achieve his/her goals – from asset protection to caring for special needs family member. For example, living or revocable trusts are quite popular because they allow the creator to retain control over the assets during his/her life, which transitions to a distribution role once the creator dies. But, finding the right one is the central purpose of any comprehensive estate plan, and this point is where the advice of an estate attorney becomes most valuable.

Get Legal Advice

Estate planning is a complicated process that requires an attention to detail and forward-thinking well beyond what a form will can provide. The attorneys at Tampa’s Bubley & Bubley, P.A. understand that the needs of each client are unique, and will dedicate the necessary amount of time to fully address all of your concerns and desires. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/STATUTES/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0732/Sections/0732.502.html

floridabar.org/public/consumer/pamphlet028/

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