Should I consult with an attorney to draft my Last Will and Testament?
One of the most common reasons that we hear for why someone wants to create a Will is because without a Will, the law decides what happens to his or her assets when they die. Most people prefer to make that decision for themselves and create a Will for that reason. The second most important reason is that they want to decide who will act as the guardian of their minor children. Consulting with an attorney is important because the resulting Will has been drafted to fit the client’s specific instructions and needs pursuant to the laws in place at the time. When you buy a preprinted form online, you run the risk i) that the form doesn’t do what you think it will do, ii) that it isn’t appropriate for your State, iii) that your Will could be invalidated because you haven’t followed the legal rules for how to sign a Will and have it properly witnessed; or iv) of any other error in form or process that could potentially nullify what you are attempting to do. We have seen the Wisconsin circuit courts and appellate courts decide cases in which they are forced to throw out a Will because the testator didn’t properly follow the law when they executed the Will. When that happens, the law treats the testator’s estate as if he or she had no Will, and the law then determines the distribution of assets. Keep in mind also that a Will is often just one component of an effective estate plan. In many circumstances, other tools can be used to avoid probate and expense at the time of death. Please feel free to contact one of the attorneys in the estate planning and trusts department at Bosshard Parke, Ltd., to help you with your estate planning needs.