A last will and testament does not have to be prepared by a lawyer to be legal – assuming you have dotted all the Is and crossed all the Ts. You have choices when it comes to creating a will. You can hand write a will (holographic will) or you can purchase a will kit online or at an office store and fill out the required information by yourself.
Are these legally binding? The short answer is: maybe.
Will kits, or do-it-yourself (DIY) wills, will walk you through the information needed to complete your will. While will kits and handwritten wills are decidedly cheaper than having a will created by an estate lawyer, if you haven’t followed the instructions explicitly, they may be deemed invalid by the probate courts after you pass away. There may also be specific state requirements that are not included in off-the-shelf will kits (such as having the will notarized or witnessed by a certain number of people). This can cause confusion, frustration and extra court expenses down the line for the loved ones you leave behind. The will you create may contain conflicting our ambiguous provisions which could lead to costly litigation after you pass away.
In addition, if you haven’t considered different situations that may arise after you pass away – or while you are still living – a DIY will may not sufficiently protect you and your loved ones. Here are some circumstances where it might be prudent to enlist the help of a Colorado estate lawyer to craft a truly legally-binding, comprehensive will:
- You have a very large estate.
- You aren’t really sure how you want your estate distributed.
- You want to avoid excess taxation on your estate or help your family avoid probate (by creating a trust instead).
- You are concerned that certain family members, business partners, creditors, etc., may contest your will.
- You want to ensure your dependent children, parents or even pets are fully protected and cared for by specific individuals.
- You want to disinherit certain family members.
- You want to leave substantial money to charity, rather than your family.
- You want your family to follow your wishes for life-sustaining medical treatments.
If you have a simple estate and do not expect any type of family infighting over your possessions, purchasing a will kit in Denver may suffice but is not without peril. It may be helpful to speak with a Denver estate planning attorney to discuss your unique situation so you can make the right decision for your estate.
Regardless of how you craft your will, make sure to review your choices regularly and make updates as necessary. Your life views, home situation and material possessions will change as you grow older. You will want to make sure your will accurately reflects your wishes.
You never know what tomorrow might hold. Don’t wait another day to write your will! The team at Brown & Crona, LLC can help you understand the various types of protective documents AND help you choose the ones for your situation. Call today to arrange an appointment: (303) 339-3750 or visit our website.