August is National “Make a Will” Month. This annual event reminds individuals to review their already existing will or create a new will. A will serves as one important document in an individual’s estate plan. However, although a will is a significant document to complete, an estate plan is comprehensive, and often involves discussions and documents beyond a will, such as powers of attorney and beneficiary designations, trusts, gifting, and retitling of assets.
While there are online services that can create wills, these programs lack the personal knowledge and advice of an attorney that more often than not is required to prepare a will which actually satisfies the goals of the Testator. Working in both the estate and estate litigation world, I have experienced the pitfalls of clients with self-created wills. For example, just to name common issues: wills not meeting execution agreements, wills not protecting assets properly for minor beneficiaries or beneficiaries with special needs, wills not naming custodians, wills providing for different contingent beneficiary language than what a Testator intended, wills with incorrect tax clauses based on the distribution of property, and wills that do not account for bonding of fiduciaries.
Therefore, while I fully support a reminder to individuals to make an appointment to prepare a will, I personally prefer the month of October, which is National Estate Planning Awareness Month, as it provides more accurate reminder of an individual’s estate planning needs during lifetime and after death.