How legal are the "fill in the blank" wills & at office supply stores?

I want to be able to leave joint assets to the people who need control of them, and I want certain things done if I’m ever unable to care for myself.

Can I just fill out one of those, or do I need to see a lawyer?

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    3 Responses to “How legal are the "fill in the blank" wills & at office supply stores?”

    1. RJ Says:

      The generic forms are just that, generic. While they will normally meet the legal minimums for most states, they should be used for only the most basic of wills. If you want to leave everything to your spouse for example.

      If you want to leave real estate, have a lawyer prepare the will.
      If you have ANY children involved, then get a lawyer to prepare the papers.
      If you are going to leave over half of your estate to someone other than your spouse, get a lawyer.

      You specified the assets you want to include in your will are joint assets. Since there is a lot of law involved there, unless you are leaving those joint assets to the person that you own them jointly with, then get a lawyer to write the will. Now if they are truly "joint ownership" instead of simply having multiple owners, then part of joint ownership is that the other person gets control immediately, and the part that was formerly yours is not part of the estate, the other person already owns it by virtue of your death. If you are not sure what that means, then ask your lawyer. What you are describing sounds very much like this situation, so a will may or not help you. The other person may well already have ownership by virtue of the joint ownership of the asset. You should at the very least have a local lawyer give your intended plan a look before you decide if you want to use a generic form to dispose of your estate, or if he needs to write something specific to make sure your intent is fulfilled.

      The courts will apply the law first and foremost. They will give great deference to a will, even if it’s not in "perfect" form. But if the law has a requirement that is not met, then no matter how obvious the intent, the law is what must be followed. When in doubt, have an attorney prepare your will.

    2. sophieb Says:

      to get certain things done you need to have an attorney do that. And, those forms "may" not apply to your state. Your state has specific language that must be included for a will to be legal. If you want to have things done if you’re unable to care for yourself (like a health care surrogate, or someone to watch over your finances and assets, or your children, to appoint a guardian, or trusts, or even a living will, or a will to pass down specific assets should you pass) then you need to have an attorney that does Elder Law specialty do that for you.

    3. Gala Says:

      don’t use those forms. a will you’ve written without a lawyer must be handwritten by you: no forms. otherwise, see a lawyer. in the meantime, just write out what you want (1) in a will and (2) durable power of atty, or medical, or whatever.

      or just don’t die yet! 🙂