When the modern printing press was invented, a printer spent his days mass producing Bibles. I’m willing to bet he could make a lot of dough kicking out fill-in-the-blank Wills at night.
Your Office-Store Will May Cost Your Family a Small Bucket of Money
The purpose of a store-bought Will is to save money. There’s nothing new about legal forms. Templates are as old as paper. In some pyramid, there’s probably a sheet of papyrus that had a disclaimer in hieroglypics that said “No warranty – use at your own risk”.
Without proper drafting, however, your penny saved could cost your estate and your family a good bucket of dollars.
The Executor’s and Administrator’s Bond
Family members are often the people appointed to handle court probates for their deceased parents or siblings. These family members are regularly required to post a bond, a type of money guarantee, with the Court. A bond is insurance that the Executor or Administrator (we’ll stick with the term Executor here), will properly execute his duties and not mismanage the estate assets.
Executors must qualify financially to get a bond issued. As is often the case, the less financially stable the Executor, the higher the bond’s cost, if it’s approved at all. The cost of the bond comes from the estate and can very easily cost in the thousands each year that the estate is in probate. The Court will permit the Executor to recover the cost of the bond from your estate, but that reduces the money that is meant for your family.
Bond companies often require that the Executor be represented by an attorney. Adding the attorney will most surely mean doubling the probate fees.
Money Well Spent is Money Saved
Hiring an attorney to review and draft your Will costs a bit more than buying it off the shelf. The price may rise from $25 to $200 in some cases. However, for that small additional cost, your attorney can properly draft the necessary clauses to reduce or remove the need for a bond at all. This small expense can save your family thousands in the end.
Featured Image: Printing Press, 1829 woodcut by George Baxter on WikiCommons