You may have heard the terms “bare-bones trust” or “bare-bones Will” before used in a negative context, prompting you to ask yourself “ How do I know if I have a bare-bones trust or Will? ” The answer to that question is important. If you do, indeed, have a bare-bones trust or Will it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney to prepare a new trust or Last Will and Testament to replace the bare-bones version you currently have.
The term “bare-bones”, when used in reference to an estate planning document such as a trust or Will, essentially means a boilerplate, or “fill-in-the-blank” form purchased at a local stationary store or downloaded from the internet. In today’s electronic age it is easy enough to find trust agreement and Last Will and Testament forms online for a very low fee or even free of charge. While this may sound like a great deal, these “bare-bones” legal forms frequently create more problems than they solve. They are referred to as “bare-bones” because they typically contain nothing but the bare essentials. In a trust agreement, for example, the terms necessary to properly manage the trust will be missing or important aspects of the trust, such as how to appoint a successor trustee should the original trustee die, won’t exist. In a bare-bones Will essential state specific information and/or language might be missing or – worse – be inaccurate or outdated.
Bare-bones estate planning documents are easy enough to create and easy enough for people to find. Unfortunately, people frequently don’t realize that the document they are relying on is inadequate or faulty. Worst still, if you have a bare-bones Will it will likely be your loved ones who suffer the consequences of relying on the inadequate document because you will no longer be here. In the end, the cost – both financial and emotional – of trying to correct a bare-bones Will or Trust after the fact usually far exceeds what it would have cost to have an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney prepare the document for you in the first place.
If you are currently relying on a trust agreement or Last Will and Testament that was not prepared by an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney now is the time to pull out the document and have an attorney look it over and make any necessary changes or revoke the document and start over from scratch to ensure that you and your loved ones are protected.
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