If you're reading this blog and don't have an updated will, you're not alone. According to Forbes, more than 63% of Americans are in the same boat as you. Another 9% have outdated wills.
Do you know what's worse than not having a will? It's DIYing your way through estate planning and not speaking with a local estate lawyer.
Here's why we don't recommend DIY estate planning.
Use of Improper Language
If you don't use the right legal terminology in your will or trust, it could affect your family's ability to handle the affairs after your death. The choice of words has a significant impact on the legal implementation of your will. If you're vague about anything, any clause regarding your finances, estate, and tax affairs could be misinterpreted. The court won't give you a second chance to clarify your intentions.
Even a simple typo could have disastrous results because the court takes the documents very literally. If you're not too careful, you might just end up $200,000 to the wrong beneficiary instead of $20,000. Careless wording and the missed fine print can later make your loved ones settle potential courtroom disputes. On the other hand, a professional estate plan is detailed, well-thought-out, transparent, and virtually inarguable.
State-Specific Legal Compliance
Estate planning laws vary from one estate to another. For instance, in Texas, a living will is called an advance directive. Similarly, the state law also allows you to assign a medical power of attorney who would honor your healthcare wishes after your death. Healthcare wishes may include not wanting to be kept alive on a respirator. This is different from a durable power of attorney for finances—who takes care of your finances.
In DIY estate planning, you won't necessarily have the right knowledge of what the law demands. If you miss out a state or federal formality in the process, the court could invalidate the entire estate plan!
No Legal Support
There is probably no single source on the internet that could address your personalized queries when it comes to estate planning. Other than the formalities mentioned above, there are many planning-related questions that you'll need answers for. You may need a legal representative to tell you whether you've assigned your desired power of attorney correctly. You'll also need them to walk you through the process of delegating healthcare responsibilities and choosing the right witnesses for will instead of choosing the wrong witnesses.
Here are some questions that you should know the answers to, but do you?
· What’s the difference between per stirpes and per capita?
· What does “my issue” mean?
· Does it matter if I have a nuclear family or blended family?
· Does my Will trump my IRA account beneficiary designation?
· What is a specific bequest?
· What is the “residue” of my estate?
· Can my sibling be a witness?
· What if my executors don’t get along?
· Who gets my money if my children die with me?
This is where the estate planning attorneys at Mike Massey Law come into play. If you're based in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, get in touch with us. We are helping individuals and families maximize their legacy with minimum hassle. Here are the details.