Don’t be mistaken: Writing a will is difficult, but too many people think it’s easy enough to do on their own. As it turns out, will writing is a complex legal endeavor that most people are simply unprepared to handle on their own. This is to say that it shouldn’t be done without an attorney’s oversight – especially when one considered the consequences of presenting a poorly prepared will in court.
If you want to help your loved ones avoid dealing with a messy probate process involving your estate, take heed of the warnings below and hire an attorney to prepare a proper will for you. Now, let’s get into some of the specific reasons why writing your own will is a bad idea.
1. You Don’t Speak ‘Lawyer’
Your will is a legal document, which means that it should be interpreted exactly as you mean it to be interpreted. Although most of us think we write well and clearly enough, few of us actually have the training and years of experience an attorney does to understand how to write a will – or any other legal document, for that matter.
This is because will writing is as much of an art form as it is a technical endeavor. By hiring a legal professional to prepare your will, you can feel more confident that your will says exactly what you intend it to say.
The consequences of a will written with vague language can leave much of it open to interpretation and legal challenges. In a word, a poorly written will is weak, and it can be poorly executed or even invalidated under the “right” circumstances.
2. Pre-Prepared Templates Are Imprecise
If you’ve been researching how to write your own will online, you’ve inevitably come across templates that make it look easy. The problem with all of these templates is that they force you to build your affairs into them when it should be the other way around.
In other words, your will should be tailor-made by an attorney to fit your life, your estate, and your family. Anything less than that leaves room for the possibility of errors and oversights that can lead to unintended consequences.
3. A ‘DIY’ Will Can Lead to Undue Influence
Undue influence in the preparation or signing of someone’s will can lead to major problems during probate. When someone commits to creating a will on their own, they may be vulnerable to pressure or direction from a third party who is trying to take advantage of the situation. This is known as undue influence, and a lawyer can help protect the testator (will-maker) from being manipulated by a bad actor.
4. Improper Witnessing Can Lead to Trouble
Witnessing and signing a will seems like a straightforward process, and it can be as long as the proper requirements are met. In Texas, wills must be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses who don’t financially benefit from the will. Each witness must also be at least 14 years old and have the capacity to attest that they witnessed the will signing.
5. Your Will Might Not Protect Your Children
If you have children – whether minors or adult children dependents – your will should protect them in the event of your passing. Not only can a properly drafted will ensure your child’s inheritance, but you can also use it to assign them a legal guardian you trust. A legal guardian can be any adult whom you wish to care for your child in your place, be they a relative or friend.
Wills that are prepared without legal counsel might not take the intricacies of these two issues into account. An attorney can walk you through the process of figuring out how to give your children an inheritance in your will as well as selecting a legal guardian and naming them in your will.
Do You Need Help with Your Will?
If you’ve realized that a will is a more complicated legal document to prepare than you thought, don’t worry. Our experienced attorney has the skill and knowledge necessary to help you prepare your last will and testament in a manner that protects your wishes.
Learn more about how the Law Office of Nancy Perry Eaton, PLLC can help by contacting us online.