The creation of a will is one of the most important life and personal finance decisions you’ll make. Without a will, you risk putting your loved ones in a very challenging situation after your death, and you’re not protecting your assets so they can be passed on to your beneficiaries in the way you see fit. At the same time, many people opt to create their own will, rather than going to a legal professional.
While you certainly can create a DIY will, there are things to keep in mind, particularly if you want to ensure your will is completely valid, done correctly, and that you’re not leaving the possibility of it being contested after you pass away, which would further leave your loved ones in a challenging position.
Think About Your Net Worth
If you don’t have a huge net worth, you may be able to successfully get away with a DIY will, although you might want to use software to ensure you’re definitely protecting what needs to be protected. If you would consider yourself in the upper middle class or above, you should most likely skip the DIY will and instead work with an estate lawyer. If you don’t, it can result in legal fees and taxes for your heirs, and depending on the value of your assets, that can mean they’re spending a lot of money. Before you decide on a DIY will, think about exactly what will be included in it.
Consider State Laws and Regulations
What a lot of people don’t realize before they delve into writing their own will is how many differences in laws and regulations there can be between states. State laws can be complex, and in some cases, downright strange, but they need to be adhered to. In some states, for example, if you handwrite a will your state may not accept it as binding. Also, if there aren’t two witnesses, it may not be seen as valid, whereas in other states it could require three witnesses. It’s important to do your research about your state before making the decision to write your own will. In fact, a lack of proper formalities is one of the top reasons wills are contested, according to Florida law firm Clark Skatoff.
Who Will You Name As Your Executor?
Choosing an executor isn’t as cut and dry as you might think. You need to select someone who’s level-headed and able to make responsible decisions, but at the same time, if you choose one of your children, for example, and you have other children it could lead to disagreements or discord in the family. For that reason, you might direct your family to hire an attorney or a financial professional to execute the will.
Creating a will is important, because it gives you peace of mind regarding your assets and finances, and it also provides not only a way for your beneficiaries to receive those assets, but it protects them against potential problems that could arise in the event of your death. If you are considering writing your own will, make sure you’ve done your research and considered every possible detail.