Feeling left out? Can you contest a Will?
My uncle promised me his car, but he’s died and the Will says nothing about the car. Do I have a right to it? How can I contest a Will?
This happens a lot. Somebody dies, the Will is published for all to see, and it doesn’t quite meet the expectations of family and loved ones. Sometimes there is a suspicion that something strange has been going on. There’s a sense that somebody worked on the individual, persuaded them to make some changes and updates, and all of a sudden the estate that was going to the children, is now going to the new person who has just appeared on the scene.
So what rights do you have? Can you contest a Will if it seems that something strange has been going on? Or if that promised item is not included in the Will?
Maybe you are ready to write your Will, but you want to leave some people out. How can you be sure that after you have written your Will it will not be challenged?
How much should you be paying for a Will? Why should you pay anything when just a few clicks away, you can find a free Last Will and Testament service? How can the exact same document cost $800 from an attorney, and absolutely nothing from a website? how do you choose how much to pay for your Will?
All interesting questions which we will answer in this article.
What is a Will?
To understand the variation in the cost of a Will, you have to understand what makes a document a Last Will and Testament.
A Will declares itself to be your Will. It typically appoints an Executor who is responsible for following the instructions laid out in the document. It then goes on to describe how you would like to distribute your things after you are gone.
To make this a legal document you must print it on a piece of paper, date it, and sign it in the presence of two witnesses, who both in turn sign the document. Continue reading
Should You Make Provision for Your Pets in a Will?
We have all seen the stories of eccentric millionaires who leave their fortune to their pets in a Will. Their relatives are cut out of the Will, but Fido receives a very generous legacy. But it’s not as easy as you may think to leave something to your pets in a Will.
One of the most famous of these cases is that of billionaire Leona Helmsley’s dog. He was the lucky pooch who inherited $12 million from her estate. The Maltese dog, perhaps appropriately named “Trouble” was one of the major benefactors of her estate. Some of the family members weren’t quite so fortunate. Two grandchildren received nothing, and Leona evicted her son’s widow after his death. Trouble did not get quite as much money as he bargained for as a judge later reduced the amount to $2 million. The grandchildren who Leona excluded were awarded $6 million and the balance went to charity.
Leona Helmsley earned the title of “Queen of Mean” during her lifetime. She served 18 months in prison for tax evasion. Unfortunately, her gift to her dog made Trouble the most hated dog in the country. He is said to have received numerous death and kidnapping threats, so had to have a permanent security guard with him. He lived in style, but only spent about $190,000 a year. Most of that was on his security detail. Although we are sure there was plenty left over for grooming and food. Continue reading
Do you want to know how to write a Will? Even though writing a Will is one of the most important things that everyone ought to do, most of us are very good at avoiding the issue. Most people put off the task of writing a Will, even though it is one of the most important things that we can do for our family.
The one thing that you should not be apprehensive about is that you do not know how to write a Will. There are plenty of resources out there to help you.
None of us really wants to think about our own demise, so putting off writing a Will seems like the easier option. Unfortunately, the reality is that if we don’t deal with the task of writing a Will we leave our loved ones with huge potential difficulties.
Most people don’t make a Will – but you should not use this as an excuse! Writing a Will ought to be a very painless process and it can be quite affordable. Do not worry that you do not know how to write a Will. Continue reading
As with any task that comes to mind on odd occasions in your life, writing your Will can seem overwhelming. So much so, that most people don’t do it. However, if you are coming to this page, something that probably happened in your life to make you realize that writing a Will is a vitally important task.
Sadly most people who feel an immediate need to prepare their Will just do a Google search for a local estate planning attorney. They make an appointment, pay several hundreds or thousands of dollars and live with the peace of mind that the task is finally off their To Do list. As long as they don’t need to update it.
However, with a little research, you will quickly understand that writing your Will needn’t be difficult, inconvenient or expensive
Here are ten quick steps to writing your Will; Continue reading
A number of surveys over the last few years have reported that anywhere from 55 percent to 64 percent of Americans have not written their Wills. However, one under-reported statistic is the number of people who have their Will in place, but made it so long ago, that it no longer reflects their current circumstance. At USLegalWills.com we wanted to explore the current state of Will writing in the US, and delve deeper into the issue of outdated Wills.
The USLegalWills.com survey was conducted within the United States by Google Consumer Surveys, June 2016, among 2,012 adults aged 18 and older, and has a root square mean error of 1.4%.
Results are weighted by age, gender, and region. For full information on Google Consumer Surveys’ methodology and validity, visit here.
- Across all age groups 28.4 percent of Americans had up-to-date Wills. 8.6% had a Will but it was out-of-date. 63% had no Will at all. This means that 71.6 percent of Americans do not have an up-to-date Will.
- Even when we focus on Americans over 35, two thirds don’t have an up-to-date Will.
- Only half of Americans over the age of 65 have up-to-date Wills in place.
- One in six Americans over the age of 65 have a Will that is out of date.
- Wealthy Americans are no more likely to have written their Will.
- Wealthy Americans are more likely to have an out-of-date Will.
Number of Americans without Wills
Our aggregated numbers show that 71.6 percent of Americans do not have an up-to-date Will. We rarely see the number of out-of-date Wills reported, but it makes a significant difference to the story and clearly demonstrates that there are significant improvements needed in the way that Will writing is presented to Americans.
We know that everybody needs a Will, and consistently over the years we’ve heard that around two thirds of Americans don’t have their Wills in place, but now knowing that nearly ten percent have an out-of-date Will adds to this concern. Continue reading
Thinking about Making a Will, but not managed to get started? don’t worry, you are not alone. Unfortunately, many people procrastinate the estate planning process for a variety of reasons. People might think that estate planning is complicated, time-consuming, or will cost them hundreds of dollars in fees.
According to a survey by legal insurance firm LawPRO, 56% of Canadian adults do not have a Will, more than half of them because they either don’t know how to get started or think they can’t afford to. The numbers are almost identical south of the border: the American Bar Association cites 55% of American adults as not having a Will or estate plan. Continue reading
You are already doing better than the vast majority of adults in the US. You know that you need a Will, and you are starting to do something about it. You have started researching the approaches to preparing a simple Will, and now you are thoroughly confused. How can it be that the same simple Will can cost absolutely nothing on some websites, and can cost a thousand dollars with an estate planning attorney. What exactly will you be getting in each case? and how much should you really be paying to write a simple Last Will and Testament?
What is a Will?
The most basic definition is that a Last Will and Testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his or her estate and provides for the distribution of his or her property at death.
There are three key elements to a simple Will. Continue reading
Every once in a while a news article appears that describes how a person made a mistake when preparing a “do it yourself Will”. The legal profession often latch onto these articles as a warning for anybody thinking of preparing their own do it yourself Will, suggesting that if the person in the article made a mistake, it follows that you should probably seek legal advice.
Clearly people make mistakes. Even lawyers make mistakes when preparing Wills, like this one who had a couple accidentally sign each other’s Wills. However, it would be disingenuous to use this example as a cautionary tale, and suggest that you should avoid using a lawyer because they always get things wrong.
So I have gathered up some recent news articles, and looked at some of our own support questions and listed the six most common mistakes people make when preparing a do it yourself Will.
Most people have not got around to writing a Will. According to a recent survey 64% of adults in the US do not have a Last Will and Testament. The more significant concern though is that in the younger age groups (people under 35) the percentage is much higher.
90% of Americans aged 18-34 do not have a Will
80% of Americans aged 35-44 do not have a Will
83% of single Americans with children do not have a Will
The primary reason for this is that young single people simply don’t feel that they need a Will, and of those that do, writing a Will is certainly not an urgent task. It ends up being something that they simply haven’t “gotten around to”.
Here are some considerations for young single people who fall into one of these two camps; the deniers and the procrastinators. Continue reading
Much of our customer support effort is spent on correcting misunderstandings that have usually arisen from bad information that has been posted on the Internet. As with anything that you do once or twice in your lifetime, the terms will be unfamiliar, and there will be a lot to learn. But the task is made that much more difficult by woefully incorrect information that proliferates on different “advice blogs”. The example at the top of the page is from a reasonably well respected resource at Nerdwallet (we couldn’t help but post a comment under their article, so they may have fixed it if you click through). But this staff writer, who doesn’t appear to have any legal training has written; Continue reading
Yeah right, $35 for a Last Will and Testament. There’s no way it can be legal
One of the ongoing challenges we face is explaining to people how our Wills at $39.95, can work in the same way as a Will written for $800. But also differentiate our service from a free download site, where the cost of a Will may be nothing or at most $5. So what exactly is the difference between a $5 Will, at $35 Will at USLegalWills.com and an $800 Will drawn up by an estate planning attorney?
When the cost of a Will is too little
Why would I pay $35 for a Will from you guys when I can get download one for free at freelegalforms.com
In the last week alone I have seen a number of people asking the question on the internet “Is it okay to prepare my own Will using an online Will service”. I have been shocked at the amount of misinformation that has been posted in reply.
To be clear, I am defending an interactive online Will service like the one at USLegalWills.com, I am not suggesting that you should prepare your Will using a blank form DIY Will kit that you could buy in Staples. The blank form kits are a disaster, but the online Will services are an excellent mid-ground for somebody who doesn’t want the inconvenience and cost of a lawyer, but still needs to have their Will in place.
These are some of the most egregious, incorrect warnings that I have seen in the last week.
1. You must use a lawyer
Written by a lawyer in response to a question on Quora.
We are seeing an increasing number of articles about “online Wills” but the definition seems to be vague. Let us explore what exactly is meant by an “online Will”.
What is a Last Will and Testament
There are clear laws as to what constitutes a legal Last Will and Testament and these laws are quite consistent across all jurisdictions. To be a legal Will, the document must be written or typed on a piece of paper, and usually it must be signed in the presence of two independent witnesses who have nothing to gain from the contents of the Will. We say “usually” because in some jurisdictions they accept a “holographic Will” which is entirely written in your own handwriting, and does not require the two witnesses.
There is one other exception; Continue reading
You probably know that your Last Will and Testament is a description of how your estate will be distributed after you have passed away. It gives you an opportunity to recognize the people and organizations that have had an impact on your life and insures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. But beyond the distribution of your assets, this article will highlight four key appointments that are made in your Will.
Your Executor (or Personal Representative)
This person has the responsibility to carry out the instructions in the Will and without a Will the Executor will be appointed by the courts. It’s a difficult appointment to make because you need to find somebody with the organizational skills to collect your assets, file your taxes and provide reports to the beneficiaries.
The Executor has to of course be trustworthy, Continue reading