Sioux Falls, SD asked in Family Law, Estate Planning and Probate for South Dakota

Q: Do I need a lawyer to change the executor on my will?

1 Lawyer Answer

A: A will is a relatively simple legal instrument that a reasonably intelligent person ought to be able to prepare on their own without a problem.

Nevertheless, we frequently see situations where a reasonably intelligent person has botched one. I just handled a probate for a man who botched the self-proving affidavit on his now deceased wife’s will and had home hospice nurses witness it. And a separate probate where a DIYer tried to avoid probate using PODs for her financial accounts and a TOD deed for her real property. And yet a third probate where a DIYer made a codicil to his previous Will and his wife thought it was a new Will so she shredded his actual Will. And it wasn’t too long ago when a DIYer named his son as executor despite the son’s disqualifying criminal record.

In fairness, I am a litigator and only get involved in a handful of probate cases each year. A will properly prepared by a competent estate planning attorney doesn’t need my services when it comes time to probate the will.

In the long run, it is always safest and often less expensive to hire an attorney to prepare these estate planning documents, especially if you anticipate any other family members may be difficult or upset when you sue.

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