Wills: Dangers of Do It Yourself Wills and Kits
Can you write your own Will? Yes. Should you? It’s not always a good Idea.
Most websites that sell “Do it yourself” Will kits come with a disclaimer that says something along the lines of:
“ … provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.”
Why? Because legally they can’t do any of the things listed in the disclaimer. They are not attorneys and cannot give you legal advice. These disclaimers boil down to “use at your own risk” or what I like to call a “thank you for your money” clause. You pay for forms that may be offered to you after you answer a few vague questions, not knowing if they follow the law in your State, are appropriate for your needs, or will even work.
Here are just a few of the most common problems people face with “Do it yourself” Will kits and hand written Wills:
· Confusing Language
· Missing information
· Additions or modifications
· Inappropriate agents
· Language that fosters conflict
· Assets that are not controlled by the Will included
· Undermining the spouse’s protected rights
· Misidentification or ambiguity of assets
· Gifts with unintended consequences
· Legacies that cannot be funded
· Safeguards missing to offset challenges for competence and duress
· Failure to provide for changes in circumstances
· Missing alternate gifts or devisees or agents
· Gifts to those who won’t get the gift due to government intercepts
· Fail to consider taxes, liens and other indebtedness
· Omission of children or children born after Will creation
· Property passing through the Will that could have passed by law in more streamlined manner
The main issue with writing your own will or using a self-help kit is you don’t know what you don’t know. Be it language, disinheriting a child, or protective provisions you are going to have questions or not know what to do. Talk to an Estate Planning attorney to get your questions answered and have a custom plan created for you.
Information in this blog post is not legal advice but general information. Contact an estate planning attorney to implement a plan for you.
*Quoted disclaimer used in this blog post is posted on Legalzoom