The simple answer to this question is yes, you can. You can draft instructions about what you
want to happen to your property at your death, or you can get online and find forms to download.
The more important question, however, should be “Should I prepare my own last will and
testament?”
The answer to that question is not as simple. Each state has its own laws that govern
testamentary documents, or wills and how they are created. In addition, each state has its own
laws governing property rights, inheritance, etc. A form you find online or create yourself might
be valid in some states but not others. Or, it might not completely accomplish your intentions
even if specifically set out in the will. In Alabama, for example, a surviving spouse has a right to
an “elective share” even if he or she is not identified in the will to receive anything. Moreover,
your instruction to leave a home to a loved one could be circumvented if you were to spend time
in a skilled care facility and receive help from Medicaid.
It is always a good idea to have a lawyer review your estate planning needs with you to help you
decide the most efficient and effective way to ensure your intentions are safeguarded. A lawyer
can help you decide the best options for directing the distribution of your property after your
death, putting some or all of it in a trust while you are still alive, or even putting some or all of it
in a trust following your death.
If you have any questions about your estate planning needs, feel free to give Michael Robertson
a call, and he will be glad to discuss them with you.