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DIY Don’t: Self Written and Template Wills and Estate Planning

Anthony T. Ballato, Esq

Thursday, September 30, 2021

We are a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) nation. From car repair to stock trading, Americans trust Google research and a YouTube video to guide them to success. Hiring a mechanic to fix your attempt at engine repair is an option. However, if you use do-it-yourself Will for your estate, fixing it after death is not a possibility. Your Will is a legal document that ensures your assets are distributed to those you select, and it also identifies who may serve as executor to manage the process. A Will template or pen and paper may seem sufficient to make your wishes known, but is not. When you are considering your life’s work and loved ones, a Will is not the right time to leave it to inexperience.

Here are some important reasons that hiring an experienced attorney to create your Will and Estate plan is a sound investment.

You want a Will that is comprehensive

A Will is much more involved than listing your assets and who Will inherit them after your death. A Will may also designate guardianship of minor children or designate some assets gifted to charity. You may overlook an asset if you are merely checking boxes on a Will template. Let an attorney ask you the right questions to address all components of your estate.

You want a Will that is legally binding

This is one of the most important pitfalls of a DIY Will. Probate laws are constantly changing, and requirements differ from state to state. Using an outdated template is a sure way to get your Will thrown out. Having an attorney prepare and review your estate plan can help ensure that it Will hold up in court and be admitted to probate.

You want a Will that protects your interests

Part of preparing your estate may include a Healthcare Proxy, Living Will and Power of Attorney. Your agent(s) can make medical and monetary decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Specifying your choice for these key roles is very important and should not be left up to a court.

You want a Will that can be easily updated as circumstances change

In the face of divorce, second marriages and other complicated family dynamics, an attorney Will make certain your Will is updated properly to your current situation that might avoid legal actions later.

You want a Will that minimizes tax burdens

People often forget the tax implications of leaving assets to beneficiaries. Depending on the size of your estate, this can be costly to your loved ones. An attorney Will navigate you through the strategies of reducing tax burdens within the scope of the law.

In reality, a poorly written Will can be worse than no Will at all. A self-written statement or Will template may confuse your last wishes and delay the administration of your estate for months or years following your death. The Law Office of Anthony T. Ballato provides knowledge, experience and dedication to every client and is ready to help you with your Long Island estate planning. Skip the legal template and rely on the expertise of the Ballato law firm to make certain your final wishes are carried out. Call today at 516-541-9080 for a free consultation.