Making A Will: Do I Need a Lawyer?
It happens all too often. A father dies unexpectedly, leaving behind a wife and children without any instructions or plans for the future. There’s no will, no estate plan of any kind, and, consequently, his wife and children may receive far less than he ever intended.
Drafting a will is a good idea for people of any age, because we simply don’t know the future. A will can ensure that your money and possessions are distributed to the people you intend and in the way you intend.
You don’t necessarily need a lawyer to draft a will. In fact, some law firms reportedly recommend a basic do-it-yourself, fill-in-the-blank will for people who don’t have many assets or complex financial holdings.
Of course, life is more complicated for others, and having an attorney’s counsel can be especially helpful if you or your spouse have undergone divorce and there are multiple families involved. Moreover, an experienced attorney can advise on a broad range of end-of-life legal issues that you may not have thought of, such as preparing living wills, durable and health powers of attorney, establishing trusts, avoiding unnecessary probate taxes, and more.
As you contemplate drafting a will, a conversation with an attorney may be helpful if:
- You plan to leave behind a substantial amount of assets that could incur estate taxes.
- You have complicated plans for distributing your property, such as leaving your house to your spouse until he or she dies and then passing it on to your children from a previous marriage.
- You are a small business owner and want to know about the rights of surviving owners.
- You have special needs children or family members and must arrange for their long-term care.
- You’re afraid that someone might contest your will.
- You have questions regarding the distribution of your possessions.
How much would a wills attorney cost? Each firm has different billing methods, but will attorneys often charge flat rate fees for their services. Rates are likely to be based on the complexity of your case and where you live, so you’ll want to be sure that you agree on a rate before you engage an attorney.