Have you ever thought about trying a do-it-yourself estate planning package? These days, you can find a fill-in-the-blank form online that is ready to print online or can even pickup a pre-printed form at your neighborhood office supply store. While those pre-printed forms may be convenient, the unfortunate reality is that when estate planning documents are not properly executed, the small initial cost savings creates significant problems in the future.
Those with simple estates don’t need a great deal of estate planning, but they still need legitimate estate planning documents. For most situations, that typically includes a Will, a Georgia Advance Health Care Directive, and a financial Power of Attorney. Some well-intended people try to create these documents on their own, searching online for a free template or a paid website. While some of these templates are effective, others result in a defective estate plan that creates more issues for the family when the documents cannot be enforced as originally anticipated.
One of the more common mistakes with do-it-yourself estate planning documents has less to do with the the documents, but with their actual execution. In most situations, a will requires two disinterested witnesses and a Notary. The witnesses must be at least 14 years old and cannot be a beneficiary listed within the Will. Also, the Notary should not be counted as one of the two witnesses. Without the required number of witnesses, the do-it-yourself Will is almost always going to be considered unenforceable.
Another problem with do-it-yourself estate planning documents relates to enforcement of the specified provisions. In some situations, the scenarios anticipated by the individual at the time the will is prepared is no longer applicable and therefore the “plan” cannot be implemented. This type of problem usually relates to disposition of a specific piece of real estate or an automobile.
In some situations, the fact people utilized a do-it-yourself estate planning package instead of an experienced estate planning attorney can ultimately cost thousands of dollars in legal fees or other expenses. In a recent situation we are handling at Durden & Mills, PC, the deceased purchased a do-it-yourself estate planning package from a popular website. Unfortunately, the deceased’s love one is having significant difficulty probating the Will due to several technical errors in the drafting and execution of the Will. In retrospect, the costs of a standard will from a qualified estate planning attorney would have been much less what will ultimately be paid to litigate the matter.
If you want to discuss your estate planning needs, please call the Estate Planning attorneys at Durden & Mills, PC to schedule a free consultation. Call us at (706) 543-4708 and we’ll be happy to meet with you.