Thinking about writing a last will is and testament isn’t particularly pleasant. The reality is that once you reach adulthood, the time has arrived to start thinking about estate planning. If nothing else, you need to get a durable medial power of attorney and a living will in place. An underlying question you may find yourself stewing over is whether you should write your will on your own or should you hire an estate lawyer to undertake this task for you.
Taking Advantage of Last Will and Testament Forms and Templates
Thanks to the ubiquitous nature of the internet, last will and testament forms and templates abound in this day and age. Thus, you may be inclined to take advantage of an online will form or template.
An important factor that you need to bear in mind when it comes to using a will form or template is that estate and probate law is different from one state to another. The laws in each state are similar because many states utilize the Uniform Probate Code. With that said, not all states use the UPC and nearly every state that does has made modifications in it. As a result, if you elect to use a form or template, you need to be certain that out select one that is state specific to where you reside. You also need to make sure that the form or template is up to date with the law as it exists at the time you use the device to create your own last will and testament. Confirming you are using a proper and up to snuff form or template is not necessarily an easy task.
Writing a Last Will and Testament on Your Own
Time and again on television shows and in movies characters are seen sitting down to write their own wills. You certainly have the legal right to write a will on your own. However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do it.
As mentioned previously, forms and templates need follow the requirements of state law in order to be valid. If you are going to type a last will and testament on your own, that document will also need to comply with the statutes of your state. There is one way in which you can avoid the legal niceties of California estate and probate law when drafting a will on your own. This is accomplished by writing your will by hand and not typing the document.
California law permits a person to prepare what is known as a holographic will, a handwritten will, that will be legally valid even if it lacks the formal requirements for wills in the Sunshine State. Provided a person is of sound mind and body when he or she handwrites a last will and testament, the instrument will likely be deemed legal and lawful by a California probate court.
Hiring an Estate Lawyer to Prepare Your Last Will and Testament
You can hire a lawyer to write your last will and testament and this oftentimes is the advisable course to take. The reality is that if you are at a point in your life at which a will is recommended, you may have other estate planning and related needs that are best addressed by a skilled attorney.
The first step in retaining an attorney to prepare your will is to schedule an initial consultation with an estate lawyer. During an initial consultation, an attorney will evaluate your situation and make recommendations to you about a comprehensive estate planning strategy. For example, you may make an appointment with a lawyer to start the process of drafting a will. You may find at the consultation that creating a will is not the ideal step for you to take.
You will also have the opportunity to raise any questions you might have about a will and other estate planning issues. As a matter of practice, an estate lawyer typically doesn’t charge a fee for an initial consultation.
Estate Planning, Will Drafting, and Attorney Fees
If you end up needing a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney for healthcare, and a living will, you are likely to find this will not be an unduly expensive process. Estate attorneys oftentimes provide these services for truly reasonable fees. Their hope is that you will be satisfied with their work in these areas and return to them for additional services in the future. Indeed, provided you are pleased with their efforts, you may not only stick with a particular estate attorney during your life but the lawyer may be your choice to deal with probate matters upon your death.
An estate planning lawyer typically charges client fees in one of two ways. First, an estate attorney may charge by the hour. Second, an estate lawyer may charge a flat fee for the preparation of instruments like a simple will, durable power of attorney for healthcare, or living will.