A simple Will prepared by Jeppesen Law will cost just $495. For a married couple, the two Wills together will cost $695.
A simple will is one that does not include any trust provisions. It does dictate who will receive your possessions when you pass away, who will be your Personal Representative to ensure your wishes are honored, AND if you are a parent of a Minor Child, it names your selections for Guardian.
But a Will alone is not all you are receiving. Other documents used to supplement your Will include powers of attorney for financial decisions, health care decisions, and care and custody of minor children (if applicable). These powers of attorney are so that there is someone authorized by you to help your life stay on track in the event of an incarceration, vacation, travel, accident, stroke, or dementia. Read here and there for more information on the importance of these powers of attorney. Plus, a Living Will so that you can answer the question of what type of medical care you want in the event you are in a medical state from which you are not going to recover.
These documents, a Will, Living Will, and powers of attorney, make for the foundation of an adequate estate plan. However, there are a few scenarios where you might want to consider additional planning, including:
Second marriage with blended families;
Step or foster family that you’d like to treat as your own; and
If you have heirs who are not yet mature enough to handle an inheritance, a revocable trust or a will with trust provisions is a better option as it allows your Executor and Trustee to hold the inheritance until the heir will be more likely to handle your gift carefully.
A word of caution to you estate plan do-it-yourselfers. Saving a little money now by creating your own will can cause extreme hardship, frustration and cost to your family and estate when you pass away. Here are two recent examples. First, parent’s will would have accidentally disinherited one child of theirs, while leaving the rest of their estate to their other children. The kids do not have a great relationship and legally do not have to share their inheritance with anyone else. The parents were confused by the legal language and made a decision they thought was best, but wasn’t a true expression of their wishes.
Second, husband’s will would have disinherited his wife, it created a testamentary trust with all of his assets to be held for the benefit of his and his wife’s children, but the wife was not included. He wanted it all to go to his wife, but if she passed first, then for the assets to be held in a testamentary trust. Again, there was language that the husband thought meant one thing, but in reality meant another. In both of these scenarios, they created wills by themselves to save money, but it ended up costing more to create two wills and have an attorney review them. Luckily, both clients didn’t feel comfortable with the wills they created and asked me to review it.
These stories are just recent ones. I could write a small book on the experiences I have encountered just in the last year. D-I-Y Wills are a recipe for disaster. Can they be effective? Yes. But, unless you have it reviewed by an attorney, you won’t know the answer until it is too late.