Let’s say you understand how important it is for you to have a Last Will and Testament (“Will”) before you die.
But now let’s say you decide to write your Will yourself.
And let’s throw in there that you are not an estate and probate lawyer.
Maybe you are a surgeon who regularly operates on himself (or herself), but whatever your day job, you are not an estate and probate attorney.
So, you decide to go ahead.
Let’s even say that you read a bunch of “Tips of the Week” on Facebook and any number of blog posts warning you not to write your Will yourself, but you are determined.
You’re going to write your Will.
If the endless horror stories of the unnecessary anguish, cost, and expense individuals have caused their families by writing their own Wills won’t dissuade you, here are a few basic principles you should keep in mind.
Here’s Some Advice.
- Don’t be wordy and make sure you are clear. A major problem with Wills that are not written by an experienced estate and probate lawyer is that they often fail (are declared invalid) because the terms are vague and ambiguous. When people try to write long, wordy explanations, or attempt to write requests that are contingent upon something happening (or not happening) what they usually end up with are Will terms that are either vague and ambiguous, or not legally permissible.
For example, if you write a bequest that says, “I leave $100,000 to John so long as he never gets married,” that will be void. You cannot use your Will to put a restraint on marriage.
- Familiarize yourself with your state’s laws. This alone is a very good reason why you should not write your Will yourself, but if you insist on doing so, it is imperative that you know your state’s laws. Each state has its own laws regarding Wills and how they must be executed—and you must follow these rules to the letter.
If you do not comply with all the Will formalities, it can cause significant time and money to fix the problems later, or your Will could fail in its entirety.
3. Understand Probate. Finally, always keep in mind that having a Will does not mean your estate does not have to go through probate.
The Moral of the Story
The moral of the story here is please don’t write your Will yourself! But if you do, please make sure that you do it correctly.
Protecting Your Family is Just a Phone Call Away.
Don’t leave planning for your future and that of your loved ones to chance. All it takes is one phone call to SJF Law Group to ensure that your wishes will be followed, and your loved ones taken care of when you are gone. We expertly guide individuals through the complex probate process, and capably handle all aspects of the creation, administration, and settlement of trusts as well. When you work with the estate planning attorneys at SJF Law Group, you get more than just an estate plan: you get peace of mind. Call us at 954-580-3690 or email us at: [email protected] today.