Writing your own will can cause trouble.
Estate planning is important but often overlooked.
In 2021, only one-third of Americans had estate planning documents.
Despite these small numbers, there was actually a 63 percent increase from the previous year of those with estate planning documents in the demographic between ages 18 and 34.
Although this is certainly an improvement, the mere existence of estate planning documents does not mean they are effective.
And this demographic is notorious for its laudable tendency to DIY, especially online with free (or nearly free) apps.
According to a Yahoo Life article titled “Planning to Write Your Own Will? Here’s What You Need to Know,” creating your own last will and testament online or by hand is unwise.
While it this move may immediately save you money, it could cost you far more in the future.
If you make a mistake or overlook a key component of state law, you will leave you loved ones with unnecessary stress, court fees, and legal fees.
At best, a mistake on your last will may only delay your estate from clearing probate.
In the worst cases, even a minor mistake in writing your own will can lead to your last will being declared invalid (i.e., not worth the paper on which it is printed) or being contested.
A last will must be signed and executed according to state law.
This means you must have the proper language and correct number of witnesses required by your state of residence.
Also, having a notarized “self-proving affidavit” as part of the execution speeds processing the last will and reduces the costs when probated.
Failing in any of these, means the state may nullify your wishes and distribute your assets according to the laws of the state.
Working with an experienced estate planning attorney will certainly cost more money upfront than writing your own last will, even on that free (or nearly free) app.
Your attorne can create help direct your assets to the appropriate individuals in accordance with current tax law and probate code, giving you and your loved ones peace of mind.
Even if you worked with an attorney rather than wrote your own last will, you should review and update your estate plan regularly to account for changes in state and federal laws, let alone in your own family dynamics.
Reference: Yahoo Life (Sep. 17, 2021) “Planning to Write Your Own Will? Here’s What You Need to Know”