The topic of your own death is probably not something you want to spend a lot of time thinking about. You might think that your end is so far off, why should you bother considering it? Many people think this way, and they avoid making a will for themselves. If you don’t have a will, you risk your final wishes not being granted, and leaving the division of your assets up the court to decide. It’s never too early to write a will to avoid confusion for your loved ones after your death, especially because you truly have no way of knowing when that will be. But should you write your will yourself?
A will is a legal and binding document, and its contents are very important to you and your family. The short answer is no, unless you’re a lawyer, you probably shouldn’t write your own will.
A will can be a very complicated thing to construct, because there are so many things to consider. How will you divide all of your assets, from your land to your car to your bank accounts to your belongings, between your beneficiaries? Who will care for your minor children, or your pets? Who will be in charge of executing your will? What if the beneficiaries or executor predecease you, what happens then? What other special instructions do you have?
Putting all of these desires into a legal document that will not be challenged is a difficult thing to do on your own. It will require research and insight. The most important thing to consider is that laws regarding estates vary wildly across the country. You will need specific knowledge pertaining to the laws in your state, and the states that your beneficiaries live in or you hold additional property in. All of this is best left to a lawyer who is versed in estate planning and will-making. You will avoid headaches and, most importantly, making a mistake that could cost your loved ones unnecessarily.
What If You Use DIY Software?
A seemingly more practical approach to handwriting your own will could be using at-home legal software, but experts warn against this, as it can be a false sense of security. Many will-making programs contain outdated information on laws, and it can be difficult customize your will exactly how you want it if you have complicated or unusual requests. If there are mistakes, your entire will could be called into question. If you want to give it a shot, it is still best to hire a lawyer to review your work.
Are There Any Exceptions?
If you have an extremely simple desire for your will, such as that absolutely anything you own be left to one person or charity, it may be more realistic to write your own will. Blanket requests are harder to challenge or misinterpret. If you have relatively no assets, you might also decide to write your own will. However, no matter what, there is no substitute or safer plan for your loved ones than getting a lawyer to help you prepare your will.