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.
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
Everybody knows that they need to write a Will, but the stats show that only about a third of adults in the US have managed to get it done. Some say it’s the cost that puts people off, others say that it’s finding the time to make an appointment. In our experience of fielding calls through our customer service center, the real issue is that most people have no idea where to start. A very common call we receive is “I know I need to write a Will, what do I do?”. Here we have ten steps to go through to prepare your Will.
1. Choose your approach
You can take one of three approached to write a Will. The cheapest is to use a blank sheet of paper, or a blank form kit, and fill in the blanks explaining what you want to happen to your things after you have died. Continue reading
Most people recognize that a Financial Power of Attorney (PoA) is a critical part of a complete estate plan. While a Last Will and Testament describes the distribution of your estate after you have passed away, the financial Power of Attorney allows you to give somebody to power to handle your business affairs if you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to take care of your finances yourself. This article discusses the implications of creating a Financial PoA. Keep in mind that we are not dealing with a healthcare PoA in this article which is an entirely different document.
Background to the Financial Power of Attorney
A financial PoA allows you (the grantor, principal or donor) to grant power to another person (the attorney-in-fact or agent) to handle specific or general financial tasks under defined circumstances. This gives rise to the different types of financial PoA; they can be “special” or “limited” if they grant specific powers to the agent, or you can create a “general Power of Attorney” if the powers are not to be restricted.
There are three types of general PoA Continue reading