By: Zoe Kerasidis, Esquire firstname.lastname@example.org
As the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, or COVID-19, continue to grow, more and more people are focusing on getting their legal and financial affairs in order. Given the current social distancing policies and the ever-growing health and economic concerns, many have turned to online sites that offer do-it-yourself (“DIY”) Wills.
DIY Wills often involve a standard form with blanks for you to enter your personal information to complete the form. While it may seem that these sites offer savings of time and money, trusting such form documents may have grave consequences, and ultimately fail to achieve your true objectives for the disposition of your assets. These DIY Wills lack personalized estate planning tailored to achieve your particular goals and often fail to satisfy state-specific legal requirements for a valid Will.
Saving Time and Money, But At What Cost? Most companies offering online DIY Wills offer these services nationwide and therefore, often fail to comply with state-specific requirements. These DIY Wills are generally completed with little, if any, attorney guidance, which may cause unintended results that deviate from your estate planning goals and, in some cases, increase your exposure to taxes and fees that may have otherwise been avoidable had you consulted an attorney.
If your Will fails to meet state-specific validity requirements (e.g., failure to comply with proper execution requirements, provisions that are too vague or confusing to be enforced), the document will likely be deemed invalid and your assets will be disposed of as if you passed away without a Will. This can have grave and unintended consequences, especially if you have a blended family, a pre- or post-nuptial agreement that requires certain provisions in your estate planning, or disabled, immature, or minor family members who require special planning.
Further, should your Will fail to satisfy state-specific requirements, it may be contested in court. Litigation contesting the Will could leave your estate tied up in court for years, thereby subjecting your estate and your heirs to significant legal fees. The alleged savings of time and money offered by a DIY Will would be far outweighed by the time and expense incurred in years of litigation surrounding the issue of validity of your Will.
Unfortunately, these issues will only come to light after your passing. Seeking the advice and services of an attorney in your state is the best way to ensure your Will and other estate planning documents will be valid under your state law.
It Is Important To Consult Professionals Even During This Difficult Time. By consulting the attorneys of PK Law’s Wealth Preservation Group, you will receive personalized assistance tailored to your particular estate planning goals and specialized guidance ensuring your estate planning documents are compliant with all legal requirements. We can assist you with creating a new Will and any other estate planning documents that you might need (such as an advance health care directive and financial power of attorney), and we can also review any estate planning documents that you already have in place, to make sure they are compliant under current law and still reflect your intended plan.
PK Law’s Efforts to Simplify Document Signing in the Wave of Coronavirus. Although the current social distancing guidance and growing health concerns make physical signings more challenging, PK Law has implemented policies and procedures to make the execution of your Will and other estate planning documents as safe and convenient as possible. We are now conducting phone and video conferences with clients, can prepare and mail (or email) your documents to you, and provide a remote notary to assist with the execution of your documents. (Governor Hogan issued an order on 3/30/20 temporarily waiving the in-person requirement for notarizing documents.) Contact us today to learn more about our estate planning services and how PK Law can assist you.
Zoe Kerasidis is an attorney in the Wealth Preservation Group at PK Law, and can be reached at email@example.com or 410-938-8704.