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The Problem With Writing Your Will by Yourself
The thought of writing a will usually only occurs to us when we experience or witness situations that make us grapple with our own mortality. However, this usually falls off the priority list as soon as the danger passes, and we either forget about it entirely or keep delaying it.
After all, no one really likes to consider that one day they will no longer be around to handle their financial matters. But once you realize that your will is your only chance to have a say in what happens to all your earthly belongings after you pass, the importance of a will becomes a little more obvious.
Whether you believe in returning your atoms to earth and ceasing to be reincarnation, or anything in between, the notion that the state will do as it will with your estate and you will no longer have the autonomy to decide what becomes of it is pretty harrowing.
A will makes the stressful process of losing a loved one just a little easier on the heirs, who may otherwise have to fight against the state’s laws and face complicated legal procedures. In this case, they will need a personal representative in Michigan, or whichever state is relevant, to guide them through the probate process.
A person of legal age, which is 18 in most states, can write a will. Although some specifics may differ according to state laws, the basic procedure includes these steps:
- The creation of the document, i.e., the last will;
- Designation of an executor who will be tasked with making sure the will is put into action;
- Appointment of a trustworthy guardian who should be capable of taking in and caring for any children who are under 18 years of age;
- Specifying what each of your beneficiaries will get from your estate;
- Ask two adults who are not your beneficiaries to serve as witnesses;
- Proper signatures and storing of the will in a safe place.
It is recommended that you will be written when you are young and should be updated accordingly as there are changes in your estate and your priorities.
In case you are wondering, having an “estate” does not mean you need to be the sole owner of a Victorian castle with sprawling grounds to bother with writing a will. It’s just a fancy way of saying property and possessions.
A quick Google search will probably tell you that you can either hire an attorney to write your will or do it yourself on a free template on one of several websites. The equation seems obvious. Why waste money on something you can easily take care of yourself?
You should probably avoid writing your will without a lawyer for the same reasons you should refrain from giving yourself medication without going to the doctor or attempting to repair the wiring in your house without hiring an electrician.
Sure, you could get the job done correctly and save yourself some money, but you could also get it very wrong and worsen your health or possibly cause an electrical fire in your house.
In short, the Internet may have us all convinced that we can DIY and lifehack our way out of any problem. Still, we should be aware of the expertise and skills required to carry out certain actions and realize that sometimes certain tasks are best left up to someone who has the requisite knowledge to get the job done. After all, a will is not as easy to whip up as a nice cup of Algona coffee.
When it comes to writing your last will, it’s better to entrust the experienced probate attorneys who have figured out the ins and outs of the process. They will help you write a will that is self-proving and following the exact laws of your state. This ensures that the court considers the will valid and that your wishes are carried out exactly as you wanted.
There have been many cases of people writing their own wills but failing to ensure their will is self-proving. When such wills are inevitably considered invalid by the court, the heirs have to deal with large legal fees and consequences to get what is rightfully theirs, which usually amount to much higher sums than the money that was saved by not hiring an attorney to write the will in the first place.
Do-it-yourself wills written up on the Internet have been known to have certain legal mistakes that render the wills useless and eventually let people’s belongings and hard-earned life savings into the wrong hands.
Even if you have written such a will and considered the job complete, it is important to consider the possibility of your wishes being denied by the court and how this could impact your heirs.
A properly written will be created with a probate attorney’s help can save your already bereaved loved ones from trips to court hearings, exorbitant legal fees, and other unpleasantries that they would otherwise have to face.
The risks associated with writing your will yourself outweigh any potential benefits. You spend your whole life building up your assets, and when you are no longer around, these assets can benefit the people you care about, whether they are friends, family, or a kindred neighbor who may have been around for you when no one else was.
Someone you may designate as a beneficiary may not have the means to fight against state laws at all, which will surely result in losing the chance to receive their rightful share. Therefore, it’s best to rid yourself of the doubt that comes with writing a will that may or may not even is accepted by a court of law and seek the help of a probate attorney when you wish to write your will.