However, some want you to believe that you need only purchase a form to have an effective estate plan. Using this form, you are told, can save money, and — best of all — the form is valid in all 50 states.
It’s true that effective estate planning should be simple and straightforward if your life is simple and straightforward. However, few of us have those kinds of lives. For many families, the discovery that a will that was created using a basic form is invalid leads to all kinds of expenses and problems, says The Daily Sentinel in an article that asks “What is wrong with using a form for my will or trust?”
If the cost of an estate plan is measured only by the cost of a document, a basic form will, of course, be the least expensive option — on the front end. On the surface, it seems simple enough. What would be wrong with using a form?
Actually, a lot is wrong. The same things that make a do-it-yourself, basic form seem to be attractive, are also the things that make it very dangerous for your family. A form does not take into account the special circumstances of your life. If your estate is worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars, that form could end up putting your estate in the wrong hands. That’s not what you had intended.
Another issue: any form that is valid in all 50 states is probably not going to serve your purposes. If it works in all 50 states (and that’s highly unlikely), then it is extremely general, so much so that it won’t reflect your personal situation. It’s a great sales strategy, but it’s not good for an estate plan.
If you take into consideration the amount of money to be spent on the back end after you’ve passed, that $100 will become a lot more expensive than what you would have invested in having a proper estate plan created by an estate planning attorney.
What you can’t put into dollars and cents, is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your estate plan, including a will, financial power of attorney, and health care power of attorney, has been properly prepared, that your assets will go to the individuals or charities that you want them to go to, and that your family is protected from the stress, cost, and struggle that can result when wills are deemed invalid.
Here’s one of many examples of how the basic, inexpensive form created chaos for one family. After the father died, the will was unclear, because it was not prepared by a professional. The father had properly filled in the blanks but used language that one of his sons felt left him the right to significant assets. The family became embroiled in expensive litigation and became divided. The litigation has ended, but the family is still fractured. This was not what their father had intended.
Other issues that are created when forms are used: naming the proper executor, guardians, and conservators, caring for companion animals, dealing with blended families, addressing Payable-on-Death (POD) accounts and end-of-life instructions, to name just a few.
Avoid the “repair” costs and meet with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys to create an estate plan that will suit your needs. It will be one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give your loved ones.