Wills: Common Questions

I often talk about the importance of life insurance and planning for your death when I sit down with my clients during their insurance review. It’s an uncomfortable subject in most families, but one that needs to be discussed.
I just recently sat down and spoke with Heather Turner, Equire of the Law Office of Heather Turner, LLC to ask her some of the common questions regarding Wills. She has graciously offered a 10% discount on her services for my clients who make an appointment to see her before the end of this year.
Jen: Why do I need a will?
Heather: There are many reasons to have a Will prepared. Having a Will gives you control of everything you’ve worked your entire life for. You choose how your property and assests are distributed after your death. You choose who the legal trustee and guardian for your minor children. To avoid confusion of final wishes, especially if giving money to a person unrelated or to charity is another reason for have a Will, to name just a few.
Jen: When I ask my clients if they have a Will, often I’ll hear the excuse that the family knows who gets what. What happens if I don’t have a Will?
Heather: State laws deal uniformly with all instance of death without a Will. There are no considerations made for special needs of any individual or family member. Your money and possessions will be distributed according to a formula fixed by law. Dying without a Will could also lead to your minor children being placed in the care of a guardian appointed by the court, not necessarily the person(s) that you would have chosen to raise them. Not to mention taxes and other expenses may be much more.
Jen: Wow, I can’t imagine the courts having to assign guardians of my children. I can think of a few people I definitely wouldn’t want to raise my children.
I have used online services to draw up a Will before I sat down with you to redo my estate planning. Why is it important to sit with an attorney instead of a kit or online program?
Heather: Standardized kits or computer software programs that do your Will, often leave out important requirements specific to your state often making your Will invalid. Standardized kits do not address your personal circumstances and wishes. Writing a will involves judgment and skills acquired only through professional training and experience. Developing a Will requires knowledge of federal and state tax laws.
A Will that is not skillfully drafted could result in your estate being distributed in a manner contrary to your wishes, and lead to unnecessary legal and probate costs and higher taxes.
Jen: Is it expensive to have a Will prepared?
Heather: There is no set price attached to the preparation of a Will. The fee to prepare a Will which addresses your specific needs will depend upon the complexity of your life situation and your intentions.
Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation, where they are able to review your needs and to estimate the cost of your Will, based on the information you present. Most attorneys have a fixed initial starting price and based on the complexity of your estate, the fee will go up.

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