Monday, July 6, 2015

Why There Really Is No Such Thing as a Simple Will

Yes, it's true, there is no such thing as a simple will. Here's why:

As a wills and trusts lawyer, I am asked every day about "simple wills". The interesting fact is that there is no such thing.

As is discussed below, when most clients ask for a "simple will" they believe they will save money, time and complexity. Unfortunately, the opposite is usually true. Simple wills are a misnomer because they simply don't exist once EVERY client asks themselves several questions. More on those later.

The most important that there are no "simple wills" is the differences between families. While this should be evident, many people pretend there are no differences. Let's start with just two families which appear below.

Especially today, family has an expanded meaning. EVERY family is different from every other family. In the first picture, our family includes the parents of one spouse while in our second picture, the family structure is different. Your takeaway is that every family is different, every client is different meaning that every family's estate plan will be different.

Here are the questions to ask to see if your will should be like your neighbor's will:

1. Are you married to the same person?
2. Are your medical situations identical?
3. Do you have the same children with the same needs and medical histories?

As you can see, it is impossible for different families to be the same.

To an estate planning attorney like myself, this concept is fundamental. However, I can't tell you how many wills I have had to fix when a client tried to copy a friend's will or one from the internet. If your family's individuality is not considered in your will or estate plan, how do you know that plan will work? The answer is that you cannot.

The essence of estate planning is the uniqueness of your family and this is why your will, your trust and your estate plan will not look like your friend's or neighbor's. In the article below by attorney, Robert Fleming, these concepts are discussed as Fleming explains why there is no such thing as a "simple will".

The Myth of the Simple Will

Let me know if you agree or if you have any questions about this or any of our articles as we explore the world of wills and trusts and estate planning. Thank you.

Bernie Greenberg

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