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An effective estate plan should be as simple as possible, so long as it carries out your wishes. However, some want you to believe that you need only purchase their “form” to have an effective estate plan. Using this form document, you are told, will save you money and — best of all — the form is valid in all fifty states.

A form is likely the cheapest option to create a Will or trust. However, low cost is the only advantage a form can offer. And a form that fails to carry out your wishes may turn out to be the most expensive plan of all. A cheap estate document and an effective estate plan are two very different things.

For example, the fact that a form is valid in every state is not much of an advantage. This just means the form is so general that it meets very basic requirements common in all states.  Those requirements do not address your specific wishes for your estate.

I rarely see disputes over whether a Will or trust is “valid.” Problems are much more likely to arise because a Will or trust, although valid, is unclear. Because it is up to you to “fill in the blanks,” a form can do little to help ensure your Will or trust properly states your wishes and avoids unforeseen consequences.

The risks of an ambiguous Will or trust can be very serious. I have seen families torn apart because of a “valid” but unclear Will.

In one case, the deceased had properly “filled in the blanks.”  However, this husband/father used language that one son felt left him, rather than his mother, the right to significant assets. Years of litigation ensued, and while the legal issues have been resolved, the family relationship remains shattered.

A form may very well be sufficient to create a “valid” Will or trust. But this is a very different issue than ensuring your estate plan is effective. Come to a free presentation to find out how to ensure your wishes will be carried out.