DIY Love Letter

Key Takeaways

  • Over the past decade, there’s been an increase of do-it-yourself will software.
  • There are several reasons you should not do a will yourself, especially as there are some common mistakes when creating a will that can cause your assets to not go where you want them to go.
  • Paying to have a will created by a professional estate planning attorney can give you the peace of mind that your assets will go to the right people or places.

It’s been said that a will is a love letter between you and your family. I know that’s a little corny, however, it speaks to the importance of a will. Over the past decade or so, there’s been a proliferation of software available to do-it-yourself wills. In that same period, however, we haven’t learned much more, from the knowledge and wisdom standpoint, about how to do that appropriately for ourselves.

So, can you do it yourself? Sure you can. You can get one of these programs and do it.

Should you do it yourself? Probably not, even in the simplest of circumstances.

When should you NOT do a will yourself?

  • If you own a business
  • If you own multiple real estate properties
  • If you have children and you’re married, single, or you’re living together
  • If you have an adult or child with special needs depending on you
  • If you’ve accumulated a lot of assets

What are some of the common mistakes when creating a will?

  1. The will is not properly executed by the laws of the state. This means that perhaps the signatures weren’t notarized, the witnesses weren’t correct, and other errors in regards to legally executing the will.
  2. There’s language missing or there are misspellings within the document. That can lead to the laws of intestacy of that state, which say you died without a will. So, some or all the assets could pass, by those laws, to people you don’t necessarily want your assets to go to.
  3. Thinking that all your assets will pass based on your will. Not all assets pass based on a will. For example, retirement accounts and life insurance have beneficiary designations, so they go to whoever you identify as a beneficiary. Joint accounts go to the other joint owner, and there are other situations as well.

The bottom line is this: If you’ve accumulated assets and you really want to make certain that they are going to the right place, then don’t do a do-it-yourself will. I know there are costs involved and that’s why most people do it themselves. However, it can cost you anywhere from $250-$750, possibly more depending on what you are trying to do, to get a qualified estate planning attorney to draft a will for you and your family. That cost can give you the peace of mind that your assets will go where you want them to go.

Until next time, enjoy! Gary

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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