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WHY CANíT I USE A PROGRAM TO WRITE MY WILL?

Disclaimer: The information contained in this FAQ is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be a legal opinion, legal advice or a complete discussion of the issues related to your will and estate planning. The provisions of your stateís intestate will may differ. Every individualís factual situation is different and you should seek independent legal advice from an attorney familiar with the laws of your state or locality regarding specific information.

We are often asked why someone should take the time and incur the expense of seeing a lawyer to prepare a will when there are software programs that will allow you to ďdo the same thingĒ in your home for about $50, or you can buy or download form wills for even less. The short answer is that you usually get what you pay for.

Unlike a written contract, where the parties can testify about what they meant, by the time questions are raised about the interpretation of your will, you wonít be around to answer them. Youíre pretty much stuck with whatever is on the printed page. And the biggest problem with any kind of form filling-in software is that itís just thatóform filling. You are accepting the assumptions that the programmer uses and relying on the programmer to act as you would want to act. Unfortunately, this may not be the case, and you have no one to ask questions and no one to change the programmerís assumptions.

For example, the computer-generated will programs we have examined do not advise about some of these common estate planning issues:

You can also run afoul of the requirements of state law. Since each state has different requirements for valid wills, it is easy to execute a will that doesnít follow these rules. And if you donít follow the rules, your will may be invalid.

The analogy we usually give is that writing your own will is like repairing your gas furnace. What you do may work...or it may blow up. After all, if your attorney makes a mistake in drafting your will, he or she has malpractice insurance against which your disappointed heirs can recover. If you screw up, who are they going to sue?

We can provide you with knowledgeable estate planning and drafting. Through a proper estate plan, your family will be provided for, taxes and probate expenses will be minimized and your wishes will be carried out. Please call us at (301) 924-4400 or e-mail us to set up an appointment.

 

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