Why an "I Love You Will" Might Not Be the Best Estate Plan For You

Happy Memorial Day Everyone!

Today's topic is on the issues I often discuss with financial advisors and clients regarding "I Love You" wills (i.e. "simple" wills). Many people assume that if their situation is "uncomplicated" or if they "just want to leave everything to the husband (or wife) and kids" that they don't need anything more than a simple will to accomplish their goals. I am all for simplicity, but the reality is that regardless of how complicated your situation may or may not be, a "simple" will may not be the answer.

Here are some of the concerns that come up when using this type of will:

1) a simple will can be contested very easily
2) a simple will is usually very broad and will be subject to probate court interpretation
3) probate cannot be avoided with the use of a simple will

As far as the first concern goes, simple wills that are drafted with boilerplate provisions can be contested with little difficulty. This means that whoever you intended to receive money or property will usually be delayed in receiving that inheritance if your will is contested. They may have to pay for an attorney to fight for their rights to the inheritance. They may also end up losing a portion of the inheritance due to fact that the will was drafted so "simple."

With regard to the second concern, always remember that your will is effectively a list of instructions provided to the probate court that tells them who you want to have your property when you die, how you want them to get it, and who you want to take care of you children. If you provide instructions that are open to interpretation, the judge will be making the decisions for you. A simple will can leave a lot open to interpretation. Again, that is why it is called "simple."

Finally, don't fall into the trap of thinking that your will is going to avoid the time and expense associated with probate. The probate court will be overseeing the administration of your estate and your loved ones will spend the time dealing with the probate process while your estate pays for it. If you are not comfortable with this then you should look into the pros and cons of a revocable living trust .

Hopefully this gives you a little more information on "I Love You" Wills. If you want to learn more about wills, trusts and other estate planning tools, feel free to look over some of the general information on our website.