What is a Will Lawyer?
A will lawyer handles the creation of wills for their clients. Most lawyers who make wills also provide related legal services. For instance, they can probably advise their clients on estate planning and help them create trusts. They may also act as probate lawyers, helping surviving loved ones and the executor of the will go through probate and the distribution of assets.
When Do I Need a Will Lawyer?
You do not need a lawyer to create a will. A will is a legal document with a few requirements: that you are of sound mind when creating it, that it contains information about beneficiaries and what they get from your estate, that you sign it, and that two witnesses sign it.
Although a lawyer is not required for making a will, working with a lawyer ensures you create a valid document that truly reflects your wishes. It is especially important to work with a wills lawyer in situations with complicating factors, like these:
- You have minor children and dependents and aren’t sure how to assign guardians.
- You have an ex-spouse or step-children.
- You have a large estate or a lot of different assets.
- Your assets are in different states.
- You need advice on how to distribute your assets.
- You are not sure who to name as the executor.
- You’re interested in estate planning or trusts.
- You don’t know what goes in a will and what doesn’t.
- You think you will owe estate taxes.
Should I Use an Online Will Kit Instead of a Lawyer?
You can easily find DIY and online will forms and kits to write up a will in minutes. This is a valid option if you have a very small and simple estate. If you have any complicating factors, it’s best to work with a lawyer and get it right.
The consequence of making mistakes with your will is that your wishes will not be followed with respect to your estate. This could mean that certain beneficiaries get nothing or that your will is contested after you die. You create a difficult mess for loved ones after your death if your will is not valid.
The Benefits of Working with a Will Lawyer
There are many good reasons to take the time to work with a lawyer when drafting and formalizing your will. These are some of the most important benefits of hiring a lawyer:
- Make sure your will is valid
When you die, even with a will, the probate court will need to validate it. If the court finds it invalid, all your plans fall apart, and the judge appoints an administrator to distribute your assets. With a lawyer, you know that your will is going to be found valid and that your wishes will be followed.
- Learn the types of will available
Did you know that there is more than one type of will? You can make a simple will, which is what you get with online kits. Another type may suit your needs better. A lawyer specializing in wills can explain your options and help you make the right choice.
- Get neutral advice
Making a will can be an emotional experience. You may feel like you have a grasp on what you want, but your decisions may be more emotional than logical. A lawyer provides advice that is both expert and neutral to help you make better choices.
- Get estate planning advice
Most lawyers who draft wills are also estate planning experts. You can get your will done and get advice on trusts, living wills, estate taxes, and probate at the same time.
How to Find and Hire a Will Lawyer
Any lawyer can create a will for you, and if it is a simple will for a small estate, being choosey isn’t that important. If you have a larger estate and minor children or other family complications, you need a lawyer with special expertise.
Don’t settle for any lawyer that advertises will services. Look for lawyers and firms specializing in all aspects of estate planning: wills, trusts, estate taxes, and probate. They will be able to give you comprehensive advice and provide you with the best product for their services.
Interview a few lawyers and ask questions before choosing someone for this important legal service:
- How long have you been working with clients on wills?
- How much of your practice is devoted to wills?
- Do you also work with estate planning and probate?
- Are you able to handle complicated wills and large estates?
- Do you have references from clients?
- How involved will you be in this process? Will you hand it off to someone else in the firm?
- How long will it take to put together my will?
- What are your fees, and how do you charge for services?
Working with your Lawyer to Make a Will
Writing a will doesn’t have to take long, which means it doesn’t have to be expensive. Be prepared before you meet with your lawyer to get it done faster. Bring along all documents relevant to major assets like real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, stocks and other financial products, retirement accounts, and valuables such as jewelry or art.
Bring contact information for your chosen beneficiaries, executor, and guardian of any children. Come to the meeting with your goals for the will. Your lawyer will provide valuable advice, but you should have at least a broad idea of what you want to achieve. They’ll help you fill in the details.
Writing a will is so important. Working with a wills lawyer can make the process smoother and less stressful. Instead of settling for a DIY version of a basic will, work with a lawyer who can provide you with expert advice and a valid legal document.