In our do-it-yourself era, prepackaged wills and trusts may seem like an incredibly convenient option for individuals and couples not wanting to add extra stress to an already emotional process. However, most legal professionals strongly advise against using them. If your will or trust doesn’t meet specific requirements, your wishes may not be carried out to their full extent, or at all.
The following are seven solid reasons why prepackaged wills and trusts might not work out well for you and your loved ones:
1) Inaccurate language: These documents are unlikely to use the correct language or uphold the signing requirements necessitated by your state or territory. Only an attorney who focuses on estate planning in your area can truly advise you on your legal obligations.
2) Poor communication: Because they operate by a pre-set language and formula, prepackaged wills and trusts are unlikely to effectively or properly communicate your wishes in full.
3) Inadequate oversight: It’s common for prepackaged wills and trusts to lack the signatures, witnesses and notarization required by law. Often, unauthorized people are the witnesses, a mistake that renders the documents invalid.
4) Outdated planning: Estate laws change fairly often, so a prepackaged will or trust you purchase one year may be totally invalid the next.
5) Invalidating mistakes: Courts are required to interpret a will by the plain meaning of the words it contains, which means that any typos, confusing clauses or incorrect terminology may completely alter the meaning of your will. This could change the way it will be carried out after you pass on.
6) Insufficient wiggle room: Prepackaged wills and trusts don’t have the room or foresight to account for the many extenuating circumstances your estate could encounter, such as personal issues, sibling rivalries, difficult family finances or tax problems.
7) Lack of maintenance: It’s important to regularly review and maintain your estate documents over the course of your life, a process that prepackaged wills and trusts generally do not allow for.
Any of these difficulties, which you are likely to run into when taking advantage of the convenience that prepackaged wills and trusts claim to offer, run the risk of destroying your original intent behind the will, denying your heirs their rightful inheritance and improperly handling or mismanaging your estate and assets. All of these issues may be avoided simply by obtaining the services of an experienced estate planning attorney who practices in your state or territory.
When it comes to your will, which is one of the most important documents you’ll ever develop and sign, there’s no substitute for the real thing. Speak with a qualified attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist you with the estate planning process.