WHY SHOULD I USE A WILLS AND ESTATE PLANNING LAWYER RATHER THAN A SIMPLE DIY KIT TO PREPARE MY WILL?Mar 24 2014
Document preparation services and DIY Will preparation kits can make estate planning seem so simple! Unfortunately, if you read the fine print, these products directly warn against the misconception that your needs can be met merely by filling in the blanks. This is true whether you pay to have someone fill in a computer form after a brief interview with you, or whether you complete a form yourself.
The truth is, details matter when it comes to your estate plan. Circumstances can easily appear similar on the surface. But, what worked well for your neighbour’s family may turn out to be disastrous for yours. Worse, once you have obtained a false sense of security by purchasing a pro forma (template) will, ailings in these documents are unlikely to be discovered prior to your death or incapacity.
Those you intended to protect are likely the ones who will discover shortcomings in your DIY documents. Not only will they have to address the legal and financial consequences of these failings, they will have to live with the emotional fallout of any unintended consequences (including litigation) of your so-called, ‘simple will’.
From the Trenches
I have seen many problematic template wills. Here are only a few examples:
- A woman with adult children and a recent second marriage named her husband as Executor on the first page and provided for funeral and interment on the second page. The Will was properly executed and witnessed. Sadly, she neglected to include the important clauses that usually make up the body of a Will, identifying her plans for distribution of assets.
- A widower with one disabled child and one child who was estranged named a friend as Executor and Trustee, with all assets to be held for and used to benefit the disabled child. He signed his will, but neglected to have witnesses present to attest to his signature, as is required under British Columbia law.
- A widow who previously loaned more than $150,000 dollars to her eldest daughter for the purchase of a home left all of her assets to her other children, but failed to mention the loan or her daughter’s refusal to repay it, leaving the impression that she had either forgotten the daughter by mistake or unreasonably disinherited her.
- A man with one child of his own, who had also raised the son of his deceased common-law spouse, left his assets to “each of [his] children” who survived him, without defining the term children in a way that included his step-son. His deceased spouse had left everything to him, believing her son would inherit upon her spouse’s death. This disastrous error is far more common than one might expect – your estate planning professional must spend time with you to learn the legal nature of your family relationships.
When you work with RDM Lawyers Wills and Estate planning department, we work to ensure we identify all of your needs for your estate and for your family after you are gone. We are available to answer any questions regarding your will and we make sure you understand every part of your will before you sign the final document. Call RDM Lawyers today, 604-853-0774, to book an appointment with one of our experienced Wills and Estate Planning professionals.