A “will” states what is supposed to happen to a person’s property when he or she dies. A proper will has certain elements that are not common knowledge, such as provisions for payment of claims and allocation of taxes, for handling shares that would be owed to minors, affidavits of subscribing witnesses, for the disposition of residuary shares of an estate, and for orderly disbursement of tangible personal property. A lawyer should be hired to prepare a person’s will because a good estates lawyer knows the process and knows what needs to go into a will and can talk to a person preparing one about all the things that need to be considered. Specific problems related to blended families can be addressed in wills and complex property issues reduced to simple outcomes. Wills should not be underestimated and are present even in the most complicated estate situations involving trusts and insurance and various different types of accounts to be settled. Even a person of humble means can benefit from preparing a will by designating a guardian for a minor child.
There has been a trend away from lawyer-prepared wills that has also seen a lot of improperly prepared wills that were also not signed properly and would not hold up in court. “Penny wise pound foolish” is the folk wisdom that should be applied to the fashion of the day of always seeking a cheaper deal in preparation of estate documents. Though preparation of wills and trusts for clients requires a licensed attorney and the alternative is often the unlawful crime of “unauthorized practice of law,” scare-tactic driven and supposedly inexpensive alternatives have proliferated often at the expense of a deceased person’s rightful heirs.
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