We’ve all seen them, “$99 to draft your will” or “$199 do-it-yourself guide to estate planning. Heck! We may or may not have purchased one for ourselves years ago. While the discount e-forms from these online libraries have a place (most likely the garbage can) they often times end up costing your family thousands of dollars more in the long run than they initially appear. The problem is not with the websites themselves, but rather with the system as a whole.
When you purchase one of these $99 will forms online and enter your information you have created a virtual “holographic” will. In Nevada all else that needs to be done is to sign and date in your own name and voila! You have created your last will and testament. However, a will, by itself, does not avoid the costly court procedure (probate) when you ultimately pass away. Once you die your family has 30 days in which to submit your will to the probate court. The decision will then be up to the probate court judge to decide where your assets go and who is deserving of your estate.
The problem now is two-fold: (1) Probate is expensive and attorneys have the option of billing your family at their hourly rate or taking a percentage of the estate. This often times can result in thousands upon thousands of dollars being paid to the attorney, simply for putting your $99 will through the probate system. So, despite the fact that you drafted your own will and saved some money up front, your family is now stuck with a bill that is often 5-10 times what you would have spent had you hired an attorney to draft the proper estate planning documents instead of the $99 will form; and (2) All the things you thought you were leaving to people in your $99 will, may or may not ultimately go to those people. As mentioned above, the probate court judge is the final guardian of where your assets go when you submit a will through probate. If you submit one of the $99 will forms, you likely have missed a lot of potential property in your estate, some estate and death tax considerations and ultimately you have given the judge the final say as to where your things are going and to whom. In essence, you may have inadvertently cost your family the peace of mind you sought to create by drafting a will in the first place.
If you would like to create a proper estate plan and avoid the costly probate procedure our attorneys are trained in the various nuances of estate planning and the intricate inner-workings of the U.S. Tax Code. Contact Us today for your free initial consultation and let us help you properly plan for your family’s future.