How much is your estate plan worth?

Mourning

I subscribe to Groupon and WagJag for group buying deals. I’ve gotten some good ones – detailing for my car, gift certificates to some of my favourite restaurants, even video-to-DVD transfer so I can finally watch myself learn how to scuba dive. However, I was more than a little surprised to see a deal one day for 51% off will preparation. Curious, I clicked on the deal, expecting that some enterprising lawyer had offered a discount off their services, and found that the deal was for a will from a website – regular value, $49.

As an estates lawyer, I know that I am biased against kits. That being said, I truly believe that estates is an area of law that is far too complicated to leave to a fill-in-the-blank form. Most of my clients tell me, after our initial meeting, that they no longer believe their estates are simple. This is because most people’s estates are not simple. There is always something that makes your estate unique, and requires some planning beyond what a will kit can do.

Bruce La Rochelle blogged about this issue a short time ago; Gerry Beyer at the Wills, Trusts and Estates Prof Blog did as well. There are so many potential pitfalls in preparing your own will by using a form that it is never something I would recommend, even if I did not practice in this area.

Think about your own situation. Have you been married before? Do you have children? Do you support parents or other relatives? Do you have pets you want cared for? Have you thought about what you want done with your social networking and other online accounts? Have you thought about compensation for your executors? Have you adequately protected your estate from creditors? How about from former spouses of beneficiaries? If your situation is even a tiny bit outside of the cookie cutter norm, you should consider it worth the cost of having a properly drafted will.

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