Where There’s a Will

I am anti-Will Kit.  Sure, it seems like a good idea to avoid an expensive  lawyer and write the thing yourself until you hear the horror stories of people who didn’t know the proper lingo and left their heirs to battle the government – or each other – over their estates. 

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what my financial guy, Larry Matthews, has written about Will Kits in his latest newsletter:

“Julia wants to make sure that her estate passes to her heirs with as little hassle and cost as possible when she dies. She knows she needs a will and decides to buy a do-it-yourself will kit. When she opened it, she soon discovered some serious shortcomings.

Advertised as a “legal will kit,” she learned that the term “legal” simply means that the kit does not break any laws. A disclaimer on the first page states that the publisher assumes no responsibility for the validity of a will prepared by the purchaser. Julia certainly wants her will to be valid, so she decided to have a lawyer prepare it.”

And that’s the problem in a nutshell.  Unless you’re trainied in legalese, you simply cannot know what terminology will stand up to scrutiny by the system.  A lawyer takes responsibility for the wording and ensures it will hold up. As little as one misused or forgotten word can render the entire document useless except to line a bird cage.   A lawyer-prepared will costs about $200.  In the overall scheme of things that’s really nothing.   You can’t put a price on peace of mind and if you could I’ll bet  it would be a lot higher than $200!