No. There is no requirement to use the services of a lawyer for life and estate planning documents. Lawyers can certainly give you advice and help you to prepare your Last Will and Testament. We always recommend you hire a lawyer, if you have the means to do so. Our platform produces the same level of quality documents and we include resources that will help you understand those documents and how they work.
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document designed for anyone over the age of 18. This document allows the testator (person making the will) to name a guardian for minor children (avoid painful court proceedings and control who will care for your minor children), gift property (inheritance) to beneficiaries to avoid the state dictating who gets your property, and appointing a personal representative to manage the affairs of your estate (avoid court-appointed attorney managing your estate). A Will also minimizes the potential disputes and/or confusion regarding the distribution of the assets of your estate.
Any person of legal age (usually 18 years of age) may make a Last Will and Testament, although an exception may be made if you are married, in the military, or have been legally emancipated. Additionally, most states require that you must be of "sound mind" (have the capacity) to make a valid Will, which means understanding the following:
• You are making a Will and you know what a Will is;
• Your relationship to the people mentioned in your Will; and
• The types and amount of property you own and how you wish to distribute it
If you die without a valid Will, your property may be distributed by a court-appointed administrator according to your state's intestate-succession laws (a pre-determined formula dictating who gets what). If you do not have a valid will, you will not be able to appoint a guardian for your minor children, if applicable, or gift property to non-family or charitable organizations.
The testator or testatrix is the person the will is created for and whose property will be distributed upon death.
A beneficiary is a person or organization who will receive a gift under your Will. Naming a beneficiary allows you to control who will receive your property after your death and help avoid family disputes.
The executor, sometimes called a personal representative, is the person who will handle the business of the estate in accordance with your last will and testament. This person also has the authority to hire professional help in the administration of your estate.
If you have minor children (children under the age of 18), you can appoint a guardian who is willing to care for them. You should discuss this responsibility with your preferred guardian prior to naming them in your last will and testament.
When choosing a guardian you should consider the following:
• The named guardian cannot be a minor (under the age of 18).
• Is the guardian genuinely concerned for your child's welfare?
• Does the person have the time and ability to care for your child?
• How comfortable is my child with the person?
• Where does the proposed guardian live? Will my child be able to adapt to the area and lifestyle?
Yes. It is important that you carefully review the document to make sure it is free of errors and accurately reflects your wishes. Once you have verified the Will is accurate, it is critical that you sign the document according to the laws of your state. This typically includes signing the documents in the presence of a notary public with two witnesses (recommended best practice).
No. You can give away most, but not all, of your property in a Last Will and Testament. Generally, the following cannot be given away in a Will:
• Property held in a trust
• Life insurance
• 401(k) plan assets
• Pension plan assets
• Retirement plan assets
• Matrimonial home held jointly
Specific gifts include specific pieces of property that you want to gift to a specific person. You will name a primary beneficiary who will inherit the assets of your estate (except for beneficiary designated assets such as life insurance and retirement accounts) unless gifts to family, friends, or charitable organizations are specifically listed in your last will & testament. If you have specific gifts of real estate or tangible personal property, make a list describing the property and the named beneficiary. You will be asked for this information in your questionnaire.
Yes, you can make a gift to a charitable organization in your Will. It is recommended that you include the name and location of the organization in the will.
A legal document that grants a person the authority to make decisions on your behalf concerning your finances, property, business, and more. It gives this agent the authority to manage all of your financial affairs.
Yes. A Power of Attorney is no longer valid when the person granting the power dies. A Last Will and Testament is required in order to control how the property in your estate is distributed after death.
A legal document that contains your medical treatment decisions in case you are ever unable to speak for yourself.
A Living Will (also known as a Health Care Directive) allows you to specify your preferences for health care when you are no longer capable of giving consent yourself. A Last Will and Testament allows you to appoint a guardian for minor children, gift property (inheritance) to your beneficiaries, and appoint someone to handle the affairs of your estate (personal representative / executor).
You should update your documents when a significant change in your family has happened. This includes getting married or divorced. If you move to a different state, you should verify your documents meet the requirements of that state. You should review your last will periodically to ensure it accurately reflects your desires.
A legal document that grants the authority to an individual to make health care decisions on your behalf in case you are ever unable to speak for yourself.
It depends. Our platform is designed to produce customized base-line life and estate plan documents that everyone needs. We advocate for the retention of a licensed attorney to create an estate plan to obtain the additional counseling to ensure you understand everything about your documents. If you prefer to do it yourself, or you cannot afford the services of a lawyer, we believe the best, and most efficient, way to create your legally binding last will and related plan documents is to leverage our platform. We’ve designed it to be clear, simple, and fast. Our platform allows you to establish legally binding documents from the comfort of your home.
Because we do not provide you with legal advice. We’ve developed software that allows you to prepare the legal documents on your own. The documents are customized, based on your responses. We do not offer legal advice and recommend you seek legal advice if you have special circumstances.