You are right IF you said I don’t need a lawyer to prepare a will! In 2020 you can prepare what is called a Holographic Will by writing it out in your own handwriting with nothing else on the paper. You can’t use a business or hotel letterhead and you can’t use a stamp for the date… let alone typing anything! Any of the preceding items would make the proposed WILL INVALID. A Holographic Will, has to be dated and signed and show that it was meant to be a will, in other words that it had TESTAMENTARY INTENT. Your holographic should state “This is My Last Will and Testament, dated October 16, 2019 in Palm Desert California.”
The question is not whether you can prepare a will on your own, but rather, whether you should hire a lawyer to do so. Don’t do it yourself. A Will is not that expensive, and the consequences of failing to prepare it right are very serious. For instance if you want to leave $1,000,000 to each of your two children and you give one a $1,000,000 bequest and the other a diamond or home worth a million… what happens if the diamond or home is sold before you die. The answer is that the son to whom you left the diamond or home gets nothing because it is no longer in existence. The other sons still get his $1,000,000. Is that what you wanted?
In addition you may need estate planning that goes beyond the need for a will. You may want to put a home in a trust or buy life insurance to pay the estate taxes. Legal advice can be invaluable in those circumstances. A few years ago I had a radio program and I opened each show with the saying “People Don’t Plan to Fail, They Fail to Plan”. Many well educated and famous, people whose name you know did not plan ahead.
Many famous people have died without Estate Planning and their estate was a mess. Walt Disney, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller are a few who did not plan ahead. They failed to plan.
When lecturing, I asked the question “Have you completed an estate plan?” I get answers as follows:
Widow: “I don’t really have an estate; I only have some money in a checking account, some personal jewelry and my dog Bella.”
Domestic Partner: “I don’t really have an estate. Kevin and I have a house in joint tenancy so, when I die, it will bypass Probate and pass directly to Bill… isn’t that right?”
Grandparent: “I made a Will about 10 years ago before having grandkids. I’m sure it covers everything.”
Whoever you are, YOU DO HAVE AN ESTATE!!! The bad news is that, UNLESS YOU TAKE THE TIME to ensure that both you and what you have is safely monitored; your community estate could be a mess and go to the STATE.
What if you should become INCAPACITATED? Do you have an Advanced Health Care Directive? Is it on file at Eisenhower, Desert Regional or JFK? When I took my mother in law to Eisenhower, I was surprised when they asked her if she had her Health Care Directive on File with the hospital. I had a copy in my office but not in the hospital. We then realized that it would help if you filed it at the hospital and did not have to go home to get it. Eisenhower now has a health care directive on file for our entire family.
Every reader should put this Coachella Valley Weekly down and do the same….today. A health care directive is VERY INEXPENSIVE. Take care of it asap!
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