The financial crisis, coupled with possible changes in the estate tax law, make now a good time to review you...Read more
Do You Need a Lawyer to Write a Will?
- May 28th, 2015
While you aren't technically required to hire a lawyer to draft a will, failing to do so can lead to costly problems for your family and other heirs.
A will is a legal document that directs who will receive your property when you die. The legal requirements are pretty simple. In order for your will to be valid, you must know what property you have and what it means to leave it to someone, then sign the document and have it witnessed according to the laws of your state. Some states allow you to make a handwritten will, called a "holographic" will. This will does not need to be witnessed, but it is much more likely to be challenged after you die.
Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA
Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Margaret A. O’Reilly is an estate planning and elder law attorney with over thirty-five years of legal experience. Attorney O’Reilly graduated from Duke University with a degree in psychology, and received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. For over 15 y...
Hammond and Associates, LLC, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Probate
For Jeffrey Hammond, the practice of Elder Law is personal. Jeff’s many years of experience in law and in business did not prepare him for the crisis he faced in 2005 and 2006 when his father suffered a stroke and both of his parents suffered from dementia and other medical problems. At that time, Jeff began an i...
Hale Ball Carlson Baumgartner Murphy PLC
Jean Galloway Ball is certified in Elder Law by the National Elder Law Foundation. She is a 1977 honors graduate of the National Law Center, George Washington University, and she did her undergraduate work at the University of California at Berkeley, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1971. She is admitted to practice in Vir...
Many services have popped up that offer do-it-yourself will software or documents. These might work fine if you have little or no property, small savings or investments, and a traditional family tree, but the rest of the population should not use these programs. When it tested three leading online legal document preparation services, Consumer Reports concluded that none of the will-writing products was likely to entirely meet a person’s needs unless those needs are extremely simple.
And likely you'll need a lawyer to definitively determine whether or not your needs are indeed simple. Do you have an estate that is taxable under state or federal law? Do you own significant amounts of tax-deferred retirement plans? Do you know how to fund the revocable trust provided on the computer program? Is there anything about your estate that is unusual, such as having children from a previous marriage or a disabled child? If you have any questions about your estate plan, you need to see a lawyer.
Not hiring a lawyer can lead to problems that drag out your estate administration and cost money and create headaches for your heirs. For examples of what can go wrong if you fail to use a lawyer, click here and here.
For more information on estate planning, click here.
Last Modified: 05/28/2015