LIFE LETTER MATURE
Should you prepare your own will?
Elaine wants to control the distribution of her estate when she dies and feels that a Will is a good idea. She had heard the radio ads for do-it-yourself Wills and bought a National Legal Will Kit.
The booklet she received contained useful information. There was a Glossary of Legal Terms that helped Elaine understand the language of Wills and estates. It contained a Checklist for Your Estate Trustee which lists those things that will need to be done with her estate when she dies. She will have to remember to give a copy of this list to her Trustee. There were sections to record Your Personal History, Assets & Liabilities and [People] to be Notified... of [her] Passing.
The main part of the booklet described the Legal Requirements of a Will and provided Instructions for Writing Your Will. The information was easy to read and seemed to be in a logical order. However, it was also very brief and left Elaine to be, truly, the author of her own Will.
The fill-in-the-blanks Will in the middle of the booklet was only two pages long and did not have enough room to list everything that Elaine wanted included in some sections. Other sections she thought were too long for her needs. She was concerned by the paragraph that stated she should not try to revise [her] Will by crossing something out or by writing revisions on it. It went on to state that if she makes a mistake or needs to make revisions, she has to buy another Will kit. The kit expressly forbids her from making any copies.
The instructions failed to give Elaine enough guidance on how to handle any business interests she might have, children from a previous relationship or how to provide for special needs beneficiaries. The kit was vague on how to properly word a beneficiary designation.
What bothered Elaine most was the Limitation of Liability at the front of the booklet. It stated, in part, that none of the author, publisher, or other marketing and distributing agents are able to warrant the validity of a Will made by you using this kit.
A Will is a very important document that must be written properly. After all, it can't be corrected after you die. Most estates are not as simple as The National Legal Will Kit may lead you to believe. A poorly written Will can cause more problems than no Will at all. The courts can even declare it invalid.
Elaine decided to use the booklet only as a guide to prepare
for instructing a lawyer.
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