January 22, 2018 Most people either do not have a will or have outdated wills that do not meet their current needs. Some people have the opposite problem. They may have drawn up wills when they first got married, forgot about them, and then made other wills later in life. This issue often creates protracted and expensive probate litigation that no one wants. To address these problems, some people turn to do-it-yourself wills they find on the Internet. While such documents are probably better than nothing, they do not fully address all the needs that these families have. There is no reason to settle for second best, because a Renton attorney can draft and execute a will in as little as one office visit. Legal Advice from a King County Attorney As a rule of thumb, most families either have large amounts of debt or large amounts of assets. Both have long-term legal and financial ramifications. For example, most owners leave their houses to their children in their wills, and almost any written document can make this simple transfer. But what if the children are financially unable to keep the house? Or what if they immediately sell the house to a home investor, wiping out a lifetime of memories? Only a Renton attorney can give solid legal advice in these situations. In this situation, the owner might want to create a small trust that gives the heirs the funds they need to keep the house. Or, the owner might place restrictions on the house’s use. Not all these outcomes are possible in all situations, which is why it’s so important to get good advice from an experienced attorney. The Importance of Properly Executing a Will in Washington Like most legal documents, wills are just ink on paper until they are properly executed. In Washington and most other states, there are very strict rules governing this process. Typically, the will must: Be entirely typewritten or entirely handwritten, Contain state-specific executory language, Witnessed by at least two people, and It is difficult to properly execute do-it-yourself wills. Everyone must be in the same room at the same time and the testators (persons making the wills) must make very specific declarations as to their ages and competency. Washington judges throw out many wills in probate court because they are not properly executed, so an attorney-directed will signing ceremony is often necessary for peace of mind. What About Will Codicils in Renton? Most wills contain language that they revoke any previous wills. While that’s usually enough to convince a probate judge that only the recent one is valid, it may not be enough to prevent disgruntled heirs from filing actions in probate court to revive old wills. An attorney will ensure that this problem does not come up, usually by physically destroying the old will and updating any public records that mention its existence. Partner With an Experienced Attorney A do-it-yourself will may seem quick and cheap, but it can cost both money and time in the long run. For a confidential consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney in Renton, contact the Law Offices of Dan Kellogg. We handle matters throughout King County and in nearby jurisdictions.