Do-It-Yourself Wills seem to be ever more popular, and you may be wondering why you need an attorney to draft a Will for you, when it’s easier and cheaper to log onto a website and download a simple form. While it’s your right to use a website or pre-printed form to make a Will, there are many reasons why this option might not be the best idea.
One problem with a DIY Will is that the way it’s worded can make a huge difference. Without the oversight of a lawyer, it’s hard to know whether your intentions are fully expressed by your Will. DIY Will forms are designed to be one size fits all, so out of necessity, they have very generic language. This means that the Will form you buy may or may not be appropriate for your specific situation.
Another problem is that the requirements for executing your Will are strictly set forth under state law. If your Will is not properly signed and witnessed, it can be declared invalid. If your will is not self-proving, the probate process can be stalled while your executor hunts down witnesses and gets the required affidavits to prove that your Will was appropriately signed and witnessed.
An even bigger problem, though, is that there are certain things that a Will just can’t do. For instance, a Will isn’t effective for making an incapacity plan. This is because a Will doesn’t take effect until you pass away. An effective estate plan includes making provisions for who will manage your assets and make decisions for you if you become mentally incapacitated. It also includes appointing a guardian for your children and planning for estate taxes, long-term care, and other possibilities.
A consultation with a qualified estate planning attorney will let you know exactly what your estate plan should include.