Is a Do-It-Yourself Last Will and Testament a Good Idea?

April 8, 2013  |  William F. Huefner

If you’re thinking about writing up a do-it-yourself last will and testament instead of consulting qualified estate attorneys you’re not alone. The Internet has certainly made this a popular option.
However, writing your own last will and testament can be extremely problematic, especially if your situation is very complicated.
An improperly executed will can turn a probate process of a few months into a long, drawn out battle of years. The presence of your badly written will may keep your personal representative from using the simplified probate process.
In fact, even the omission of very simple language that you might never think of on your own can call the validity of the will into question.
Online will templates may also lead you to make more basic mistakes. For example, let’s say the template has a space for just one witness signature. But Minnesota law requires two signatures, which means the work that you’ve done is not a valid will. This is a simple mistake, but it might not be discovered before you die.
Problems can also arise if the provisions that you put into your will don’t make sense to the courts. For example, some people like to try to leave their property to their pets, who can’t inherit. A good attorney would tell you that you would need to set up a human guardian for that pet and channel assets to that guardian to ensure the pet’s continued care.
Even if you somehow manage to write a valid will you may still open that will up to being contested. If you have a blended family or one that doesn’t get along well, for example, you could be inviting challenge after challenge from someone who is dissatisfied and who is after portions of your estate.
In fact, there’s really only one situation where a DIY will might not become a problem. Ironically, it’s a situation where you wouldn’t need a will anyway: you have no spouse, you have one adult child, and you want to leave everything to that child.
At Barna, Guzy, and Steffen we’ve taken steps to make wills, trusts, and estate planning affordable for our clients. Save time and save headaches. Protect your family’s future by calling on us to create your last will and testament today.