The risks of using a "will kit" or Internet wills
Most people know they should have a will, so forms found in software programs or on the internet are tempting. However, if the document produced is not effective, the form was no cheap alternative. While you may have saved a little bit of money, your heirs may have inherited an expensive problem.
First, the document you created may not be a valid will. Unless the will has been properly executed and witnessed, it will not be recognized as a valid will by the probate court after your death. Furthermore, each state has different set of laws and rules regarding execution requirements. The form may not have been tailored to meet Indiana's current requirements.
"Will Kits," internet programs or pre-printed forms are "one-size fits all." Life is rarely that simple. Wills should be tailored to meet each individual's particular circumstance. In addition for no additional cost, Lewis & Kappes also discusses the necessity of other elements of an estate plan: living wills, health care power of attorney or general powers of attorney. These documents can assist you and your family if you become disabled.
The way in which a will is structured is important. The wording in the will must not only be precise, but the various paragraphs dealing with the management and distribution of your estate must follow a particular order to be effective. When you complete a will form yourself wording errors may contradict other parts of the document, creating ambiguity or unintended results.
When you are making out your will, you have to think about the other inevitability in life -- taxes. A properly prepared estate plan will consider tax consequences to your estate. The current federal estate tax system is in a state of flux, making the involvement of a lawyer in preparing your will particularly important now.
We believe that estate planning is a necessary, basic service and work within legal budgets so that our clients do not delay obtaining a will. The money saved by consulting an attorney pays for the legal fees to prepare the document. Call or e-mail us for a specific quote to prepare your will and estate plan.
Jennifer Wheeler Terry
Lewis & Kappes
One American Square
Indianapolis, IN 46282-0003