Why you might want an attorney to do your estate planning

February 28, 2012

Get a lawyer.

When I first started practicing I had a lady show up at my office with a simple Will and a simple request: her grandmother had left her house to the lady and the lady needed to transfer title to the house now that her grandmother had passed away.

The lady asked me to look at the Will and let her know what she needed to do. We were thinking it would be a simple probate proceeding. However, as I reviewed the Will, which was only two pages, I noticed something that could be a problem:

The lady sitting at my office, who was getting everything under the Will, was also one of the two required witnesses to the Will. I asked her where the Will came from and she told me that a person at her grandmother’s bank had provided the document and helped get it signed.

The problem? The witnesses to a Will cannot be related to the person making the Will. If a related witness signs it, all gifts to that witness are VOID. Upon hearing this, the lady realized the extent of the problem, if she went ahead with probating the Will, all the property would be distributed to her brothers. This was not what her grandmother intended but it was reality.

This isn’t the kind of mistake an attorney makes and for that reason, among others, consider talking with a attorney about your estate planning.

Shawn Roberts

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I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. I tend to focus on estate planning and business issues. I make a living as an attorney working for Resolution Legal Group in Oklahoma City. I am husband to Amy and the father of Sam and David. We live exactly in the path where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."

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  1. Oklahoma Estate Planning Myths: I can do my own estate plan - Shawn J. Roberts | Shawn J. Roberts - March 16, 2012

    […] do my own estate plan. FACT: I wouldn’t advise and I give a compelling example of why in this post. Many do-it-yourself software programs (many found online) allow you to create your own documents. […]