Concerning Jason Alderman’s guest column, “Resolve to be secure in your finances,” on December 19, he refers readers to books, online articles and sample forms if readers want to draft wills, powers of attorney, health care proxies and living wills. He adds, “You should probably review your documents with a financial advisor or attorney to avoid potential legal problems.”
I and many other attorneys make substantial money dealing with survivors of those who drafted their own wills, whether from a stationery store firm, online legal website, book, or modifying a friend’s will to try to make it match their circumstances. Most attorneys believe everyone should have a will, and I set my fees so a customized properly drawn will is affordable for most families. Financial advisors who are not attorneys do not have the specialized training to draft wills, and generally do not know what to look for in reviewing a self-prepared document of this nature.
Texas law provides a streamlined probate process, but only if the will is drawn to take advantage of these procedures. The online legal websites I have seen do not provide documents which do so. It is much more costly to probate an improperly drafted will than it does to have an attorney prepare it correctly in the first place, and insure that it is executed in accordance with Texas law. As we used to hear on TV, “You can pay me now or pay me later.”
Drafting your own will is not a place to cut corners and try to save money. It will only end up costing more in the future. Leaving a financial mess for surviving grieving family members is not the loving thing to do.
Brenda K. Smith