With the convenience of the Internet, a lot of West Virginians try to save money or try new things through “do-it-yourself (DIY)” research. You can find DIY car repair, DIY arts and crafts projects, DIY home repairs, and nearly every other topic imaginable. But when it comes to estate planning, it usually best to leave that job to a will attorney in WV.
Every project comes with inherent risk. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could make any number of errors that could result in a poorly completed project, or worse, a complete project fail. And when a project fails, you’ll likely have to pay a professional more to fix it that it would have cost to have paid for it in the first place.
This same principle applies when it comes to DIY estate planning. But here, a project fail is often not known until it is too late, and it can’t be fixed after you are gone.
Pros of Hiring a Will Attorney in WV or Elsewhere
Project Fail—What’s Missing from Do-It-Yourself Wills
You can find any number of do-it-yourself wills online and follow the instructions to develop a last will and testament. However, many problems may arise when you use that process. You may read more about potential problems with online wills in my earlier blog. In addition, a simple will is not the only document you need to have a complete estate plan in place and to ensure your wishes are respected.
A complete estate plan should include several documents to ensure all your wishes are met in the time of need. It includes more than just considerations for your death, but also incredibly important issues that may need to be faced while you’re still alive. In fact, a complete estate plan typically includes not only a will but also a trust, a medical power of attorney, a durable power of attorney, and a living will. A will attorney in WV will know what questions to ask you to determine the documents you need and to draft them properly.
Often, we do not think about health care emergencies or illnesses that might lead to incapability to make decisions for ourselves. If there are health care or end-of-life concerns you are medically unable to address before you die, a simple will does nothing to help. A will does not address your wishes or health care decisions you would prefer be made on your behalf. This requires a medical power of attorney to be in place. This is a critical document that everyone should have. Having a living will is also critical, as it allows you to instruct your doctor about how the types of medical interventions you would prefer to have if you are terminally ill or vegetative.
Similarly, if you have a medical condition that renders you incapable of making financial decisions or pay your monthly bills, you will need an additional document. A durable power of attorney allows you to designate a trusted person to be responsible for your financial well-being and establish guidelines for that person to use to take care of your financial well-being when you are unable to handle it yourself.
Depending on the types of property, possessions, retirement accounts, and other financial accounts you will leave behind, it may be necessary to set up various trusts as part of your estate plan to ensure your estate is distributed according to your wishes. These documents can help to ensure the proper heirs receive their inheritance according to your desires. A trust can also help to decrease tax burdens on an estate, making sure that more of your estate goes to your chosen heirs and not to the government. An experienced will attorney in WV can help you determine what trusts you need based on your anticipated financial estate as well as any property you will leave behind.
Is Your Do-It-Yourself Will Legally Binding?
Each state has slightly different laws when it comes to developing a will and a complete estate plan. If the DIY will that you find online does not address the laws of your state, it may not be a valid document.
You can read more in-depth about the legal risks of a do-it-yourself will in my earlier blog, Are Online Wills Legal?, where I explain:
State law requirements for how property is passed onto your heirs.
Tax issues that may arise as a result of a poorly executed online will.
Probate court involvement causing difficulty and expense to your heirs.
Once you are gone or are mentally impaired, it is too late to create or fix documents to ensure your last wishes are fulfilled. A professional will attorney in WV can help you make sure the documents you have in place will be legally upheld should anyone attempt to contest your estate plan after your passing.
Consult an Experienced Will Attorney in WV for Help Create Your Estate Plan
Don’t waste time or money. Be certain your estate plan is set up correctly from the beginning. Estate planning documents require a great level of detail that is best left up to the professional, a will attorney in WV. Your estate plan should include a complete set of documents to outline your wishes for you and your estate.
States laws vary, so it’s important to work with a licensed attorney with estate planning experience where you live. If you would like to discuss your options and develop a comprehensive estate plan with a will attorney in WV, contact me, Anna M. Price, at Jenkins Fenstermaker. You may call me toll-free at 866.617.4736 or complete our firm's contact form. I’ll make sure your estate planning is legal and valid and your estate planning is on solid ground.