The Case Against Do-It-Yourself Wills

Jakob Legal - Elder Law

Why do I need to hire an attorney to prepare my will?

DIY wills are a dime a dozen in these days but can be a huge mistake costing your family and loved ones countless years in court, unnecessary taxes and legal fees. Many DIY wills are not executed properly (with correct notarization and number of witnesses) or something is mistakenly omitted- completely invalidating your will.

Simply put, I could attempt to install a sliding glass door myself if I had the tools, the exact dimensions, and directions. But, if I want the door to actually slide open, so my family could walk through without injury, I would need to hire someone with actual expertise.

I have provided a link to a great article I found from Forbes.com that explains the pitfalls of relying on DIY legal documents, particularly when more complicated estate planning is required. The Forbes article provides a stunning example of the problems in failing to work with a professional just to save a few bucks:

“a father was estranged from one of his children and wanted to disinherit him. Dad bought DIY will software from a big-box store and, following the prompts, listed his assets, but omitted some important ones: small numbers of shares of various phone company stocks that he had bought many years earlier. Those shares, which probably once seemed like tiddlywinks, had burgeoned in value because of mergers and stock splits and were worth more than $1.5 million, comprising most of Dad’s estate, by the time he died.

Unfortunately, the DIY will did not include what’s called a residuary clause–indicating how to distribute what is left after estate expenses, creditors and taxes have been paid and gifts of specific items or sums of money have been satisfied. So guess what happened? The stocks passed according to the law of intestacy, and the son, who the father wanted to disinherit, walked away with almost $400,000. To make matters worse, he had a substance abuse problem and blew through the money in less than a year…”

To view the article in its entirety, please click here: Forbes Article

And then call me to schedule an appointment to discuss your needs!

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