A last will and testament is an important legal document when it comes to estate planning.
You want to have your affairs in order when you die.
You know you need a will.
Unfortunately, you do not know where to start.
Can you do it yourself?
According to a recent US News & World Report article titled “10 Steps to Writing a Will,” this is not the best option.
What saves you money now, can cost your estate exponentially later.
Even if you have a basic understanding of the law, you can get yourself in trouble.
Need an example?
Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger wrote his own will.
It had errors.
His family spent more than $450,000 in taxes, plus legal fees to settle his estate.
You should work with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Do you need another reason?
Estate planning will require you to address some critical factors or risk failure.
Do you have beneficiaries named to receive your assets?
Do you have an executor?
You will need to put these in your will.
Do you have minor children?
If so, you should choose a family member or friend to rear them should you die before they are legal adults.
An estate planning attorney will help you create a will to address these and other matters unique to your circumstances.
You should be specific in your instructions and realistic.
If you want to leave a letter saying goodbye, you can attach it to your will.
Once the will is drafted, what needs to be done?
The will must be witnessed and signed by two other individuals who are at least age 18 (although some states allow younger witnesses).
These individuals may be called to court should your will be contested.
Be sure to keep your will in a secure location.
Remember, making a will is not a one-and-done thing.
You will want to review and update it accordingly as your circumstances in life change.
Do not embark on this alone.
Find an experienced estate planning attorney to help you.
So, how do you find an "experienced" estate planning attorney?
First, ask around. Friends, family and other professional advisors are trustworthy sources.
Second, conduct an "organic" search on "Google" for "estate planning" near you (e.g., "Estate Planning Anytown MoKan").
Third, either way, verify! Check out the education, experience, ratings and client reviews of any attorney before you contact him or her.
In fact, I use both of these services to thoroughly vett attorneys before referring members of our "client" family for legal help in other areas of law or for matters in jurisdictions outside Kansas or Missouri.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: US News & World Report (June 19, 2018) “10 Steps to Writing a Will”