The idea behind a Will Preparation Worksheet is to provide a template for your will. And in some ways, it works to serve its purpose. But the concept of the Will Preparation Worksheet, as well as any other type of template, is problematic and should be discussed carefully before implementation.
I’ll start by explaining what this worksheet is and how it works. Typically, an individual will complete this type of worksheet with some or all of the following information: their name, mailing address, state of residence, their initial and last name, phone number, and their driver’s license number. Often the names and addresses will include a middle initial (often hyphenated) to separate them from the rest of the names on the form. It would not be difficult to see this type of sheet used by an estate planner to help guide a client through the process of compiling a Will.
After this, it’s possible to put in additional information based on the preferences of the individual and their attorney or estate planner. For example, an attorney might wish to add the name of the living trust beneficiary to the Will Preparation Worksheet. However, just because the attorney or an estate planner believes a trust beneficiary is appropriate doesn’t mean the bill become law by definition.
In fact, the Will Preparation Worksheet serves as an additional way to provide input to the person as to what they want to include. The Will Preparation Worksheet is not legal advice or to be using to create law. Rather, it serves as a tool to help guide the client through the process of assembling their Wills and related documents.
The attorney or estate planner will need to know the wills to be assembled by the client so that the attorneys or estate planners can figure out what types of Wills to work with and what types of instructions to include in the document. This type of sheet will also guide the attorney or estate planner as to how much information to provide on the Will Preparation Worksheet. Most attorneys will agree that this is the case, and many choose to include only some or all of the required information.
As a result, there is no way to ensure that the attorney or estate planner has provided accurate information on the Will Preparation Worksheet. Also, there is no way to verify the client’s choices or preferences. And the client will not have the opportunity to review the Will Preparation Worksheet before signing it.
It is also important to remember that wills are complex documents and can take a lot of time to prepare and review. There is no guarantee that the client will be able to have the will be prepared within a specific time frame. In fact, the decision whether or not to use the Will Preparation Worksheet is a client’s choice and should not be taken lightly. At the same time, it’s not the best solution for everyone.
Finally, although the Will Preparation Worksheet can help provide instructions and choices, it can also cause some uneasiness for the attorney or estate planner. The process will be a little bit more involved than the client might expect, and there will be some uncomfortable moments as well. As a result, it’s important to fully understand what the Will Preparation Worksheet will require from the client.