How to Create a Valid Will in Oklahoma
In light of the pandemic, many Americans have become aware of the importance of creating or updating their estate planning documents. We realize that it may be tempting to create your documents all on your own. Whether you are considering writing your own will or using an online “do it yourself” (DIY) document creator, there are many reasons why this is one project you shouldn’t undertake without the help of a professional. Below are four common mistakes associated with DIY estate plans.
1. DIY estate plans may not conform to the applicable law
Forms that can be found on the internet may claim to conform to Oklahoma law, but this may not always be the case, as there can be wide variations in the law from state to state. In addition, if you own property in another state, the laws in those jurisdictions may differ significantly, and your DIY estate plan may not account for them.
2. Your DIY plan may not account for changing life circumstances
For example, if you create a will in which you leave everything to your two children, what happens if one of those children dies before you? Will that child’s share go entirely to his or her sibling—or will it go to the child’s offspring? What if your will states your daughter will receive the family home as her only inheritance, but it is sold shortly before you die? Will she inherit nothing? As opposed to a computer program, an experienced estate planning attorney will help you think through the potential contingencies that could impact your estate plan.
3. Mistakes can be easily made
Under the law, there are certain requirements that must be met for estate planning documents to be legally valid. For example, a will typically requires the signatures of two witnesses, but some states require not only that the will be signed by the will-maker and the witnesses, but also that they all sign the will in each other’s presence. In other states, witnesses are not required to be in the same room when the will-maker signs the will, and they can even sign it later if the will-maker tells them his or her signature is valid.
4. Assets may be left out of your estate plan
Many people do not realize that a trust is frequently a better estate planning tool than a will because it avoids expensive, time-consuming, and public court proceedings that would otherwise be necessary to transfer your money and property to your heirs after you pass away. Even if you have created a DIY trust, if you do not “fund it” (i.e., transfer title of your money and property into the name of the trust) it will be ineffective and your loved ones will still have to endure the probate process to finish what you started.
These are just some of the mistakes or unforeseen issues that could cost your family dearly. Call us today so we can help provide you and your family with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have an estate plan that accomplishes your goals and will avoid unnecessary attorneys’ fees, headaches, or conflict for your grieving family when you pass away.