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What Really Happens to Your Estate When You Expire

Posted by on November 7, 2015 at 3:00 PM


If a deceased person completes a do it yourself will or trust that he/she finds on the internet during his/her lifetime, the surviving family members may encounter several problems. Generally, someone who decides to make their own will or trust will make several mistakes in drafting these documents that an attorney would not make. If the deceased did not draft or execute the will or trust correctly, it may not be admitted to probate. Instead, the deceased’s property will pass by intestacy. This means that his/her property will pass to the persons that state law determines. 

Having an attorney, although more expensive than creating your own will or trust, will ensure that the documents are drafted and executed properly. An attorney will deal with all areas dealt with the drafting of a will or trust. For instance, everything from having to prove to a Court that the will or trust was made with all legally required formalities, the tax implications of the deceased's estate, the properties that would go to minor children or any beneficiary who is needing or has government assistance (Medi-Cal, SSI, etc.).


Many people have a preconceived notion that their property automatically goes to their surviving spouse or children when they die. Although this may be true in many states, the implications and costs of probate are very high and the whole process takes a long time. Also, this allows the state to determine who will receive the deceased's property and what percentage each person will get. Dying without a will or trust also results in poor tax planning or no tax planning at all. It may also allow children who are very young and irresponsible to receive property. Even if a deceased's children are responsible, not having a will or trust may cause them additional problems with creditors when receiving the property.

Dying without a will or trust only causes problems for your family after you die. Part of being human means that you can die at any time. So, this is not something anyone should hold off on doing at a later age, especially if you have children.


Document drafters, Paralegals, etc all advertise lower prices in drafting wills and trusts. However, they are not attorneys! They do not have the same legal knowledge, education, or understanding of law as an actual attorney does. Attorney's have to go to law school and take the bar exam in order to practice law. This means, they will make the least mistakes in drafting your documents and will have your interests in mind when drafting your will or trust. Even if an attorney makes a mistake, the Professional Rules of Responsibility (the rules governing attorney ethics) may allow you to recover for an attorney's failure to carry out his or her services competently.

Furthermore, while non-attorney's may have enough knowledge to draft your will or trust, they often do not how to assist you with your general or estate taxes, illustrating your actual intention in your will or trust, and/or providing for your children or family members who have special needs or are minors. Although you may think you are saving money by hiring a non-attorney to draft your will or trust, you will lose more money in the long run because of the problems the poorly planned/written will or trust may cause.

MORAL OF THE STORY- HAVE AN ATTORNEY DRAFT YOUR WILL OR TRUST. Contact us today if you need legal assistance in drafting a will, trust, or any estate planning document.

This information does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney client relationship*

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