Writing a legal will is probably the easiest thing a lawyer can do. There are only a few legal requirements and the documents don’t need to be very long. If you are thinking of doing it yourself, you can. However certain legal requirements need to be met, so be sure you are getting good advice. When I graduated from law school one of my first clients needed a will and I had no clue what to do.
I went to the library and checked out some form books on writing legal wills. Those books weren’t much help. Sure they gave me the will’s forms but no explanations. The will’s forms books “assumed” I knew all the details about writing legal wills. There were tons of little questions I had, but I just had to figure it out.
I did finally figure out the details of writing a legal will. I really figured out what attorneys were doing when they were writing wills was a total setup. Writing wills is easy; it’s the attorney’s retirement plan. Often it’s more of a “marriage contract” between you and the attorney, than it is a will. The will locks you into future services from your attorney. It’s a set up.
You don’t need to get setup. You can do it yourself. Just be certain to use all the legal principals. Because I learned the hard way, I remember all those “little things” that weren’t included in the will’s forms book. Because I remember how hard it was, I will pass those important tidbits on to you.
For example, if you need to name guardians for your minor children. You don’t just list, “Jon and Mary guardians to the kids.” Instead you list restrictions, to help the judge if there is a problem. It should be “Jon and Mary, guardians to the kids; provided they are still happily married and living together.” If they have since divorced or have a domestic violence rap sheet, you don’t want your kids to go live there.
I have prepared a series of videos called The Six Most Costly Estate Planning Mistakes to show you what to avoid if you are writing wills and living trusts for yourself. Or if your attorney is doing it, you still want to make sure it is done right. The point is you need to know and not just blindly walk in off the street and say, “Hi Mr. Lawyer. Here I am. Set me up.” If you say that, you’ll get set up.
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