Make Sure Your Will is Not ‘Mad-Libbed’

The proliferation of online estate planning tools may give you the sense that your will consists of a whole list of blank spaces, into which your attorney inserts names of your choosing, and out spew your legal documents.

Like a fancy, binding game of Mad Libs.

The reality is – your will, and the process to produce it, is much, much more involved than that. Or at least it should be.

When you work with an attorney who loves her craft and who commits to creating just the right plan for your family, there’s going to be both love and time invested. This is where the art (yes I said art) of being a lawyer comes in.

At my first job out of law school, my firm employed software to help draft planning documents. I was not allowed to use it.

I wasn’t being punished. It was actually a super valuable lesson. My mentor explained it this way:

“Listen, you first need to learn how to do the work yourself, before you can rely on technology to help you. Otherwise, you won’t know if the computer is giving you the right answer.”

And he was right!

Until I drafted a will myself, from scratch, I would have had no way of knowing the specific parts that had to be included in order for that will to be valid. There are really basic things that can be easily overlooked, which can nullify and invalidate the will. If the drafting software had an error, and omitted even one word, my client’s family could have been in for a whole world of hurt. I would cause the exact problems they had come to me to avoid!

Just like a tourist can’t rely on Google Translate to provide perfectly colloquial, contextual sentences to woo a local, we lawyers can’t depend on software to create a nuanced, tailored and valid will.

So let me reveal how the Drafting your Documents step goes down in our ‘house’. Yes, we have a system just for this! (Those who know us, know that we have a system for everything in our office.)

  1. We review our notes from all conversations, to ensure your family’s unique circumstances and details are top of mind.
  2. We review every email to capture all changes and updates you’ve sent.
  3. We spend several hours creating a first draft of all the planning documents required to fulfill and carry out your wishes.
  4. We immediately review and edit those first drafts with care and attention to detail.
  5. After a day or two of letting things ‘rest’, we repeat steps 1 and 2, combing every document to ensure we’ve communicated your wishes clearly and officially, and accommodated every instruction and direction we received from you.
  6. We finalize all documents, ensuring your plan is thorough and tailored especially for you and your family.
  7. We print everything, ready for your approval and signature.

Your family isn’t one-size-fits-all. Your estate plan shouldn’t be either. You are much more than names on a form, and you deserve an attorney who will embrace this important and serious activity on your behalf. They can play Mad Libs on their own time.

Want to make sure your attorney did more than just fill in the blanks? Or are you just getting started with your estate planning? Either way, we want to make sure you’ve got what you need. Set up a Planning Strategy Session here.


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