It's a sunny day, and I know I sound like a broken record because for your best interest, I am going to repeat.
It is not necessary to have a lawyer to draft a Will. In reality, anybody can draft a Will for you and with modern technology, Google has the answer to most questions (except what's inside a woman's mind).
Nonetheless, Will drafting does lie within the domain of most estate planning lawyers and there are more Will drafting companies to service these growing needs. In reality, some of these companies don't even have a lawyer or anyone legally trained but they ensure they are kept up-to-date on existing laws. Soon, you might be seeing Tik Tok on Will writing soon, so don't hold your breath.
However, just because you can write your own Will doesn't mean you should DIY. Here are some pros and cons, to help you assess.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Writing Your Own Will
There is zero cost when you write the Will yourself. All you need is a pen (or, in certain countries where it is valid to do so, a word processor). Templates are available online like the one in our Resources section.
There’s the added benefit of learning and picking up a new skillset, or possibly as a prospective profession.
If you only have a very simple estate with a couple bank accounts (which should already have their beneficiaries), some registered investments (which also have named beneficiaries), and local land tiles that are jointly owned by your spouse, your Do-It-Yourself Will may even suffice for the long haul. But if your family and estate are complicated and your life story akin a Netflix series, we definitely recommend steering clear of the DIY option, if at all possible.
Anytime you need to update your Will, you won’t have to make an appointment with a lawyer or will-drafting company. You can just do it yourself.
It gets the job done. If your current circumstance makes having a professional Will done in time to address your family’s emergency impossible, a DIY Will may be the sole feasible option available to you. Not everyone agrees, but a DIY Will is still superior to not having any at all.
Exclusions will not be caught. It is relatively easy to miss out on certain beneficiaries in a Will. Someone who has more professional experiences in drafting a Will, be it a lawyer or someone from a will-drafting company, will usually review your list of beneficiaries and ask you in-depth questions to make sure your Will is an accurate representation of how you want your assets to be distributed in the event you pass on.
There’s a higher propensity for error; it can get difficult for someone without legal training and experience in wills and probate law to be able to perfectly write a Will. There are numerous grey areas in the law that a layman might completely miss out on or misinterpret.
Most DIY Wills are either very easy to understand but lack nuance (so they won’t even tell you about many of the decisions you really should be considering) or they’re holistic but difficult to understand for a layman. In “legalese”, some words have completely different meanings than they do in normal, everyday language. This means that certain parts of your DIY Will may seem fine on the surface but contradict themselves in court. The court would then render part or all of the Will invalid. In this case, you may as well not have a Will.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Paying Someone to Draft Your Will
It’s relatively affordable to hire someone to draft a Will for you nowadays. Simple Wills tend to start from around $100, depending which country/state you live in. Complex Wills can be substantially more expensive especially if you have a lot of assets and in different countries, having it done by a lawyer or a will-drafting company will probably be sounder.
Engaging someone to draft your Will ensures peace of mind, particularly if it’s a lawyer to write your Will. There will be less chance that a beneficiary will contest in the event of your passing and you’ll feel more assured that there won’t be errors in the Will.
Most estate-planning lawyers can advise you on the whole estate-planning process, as opposed to merely the drafting of the Will. Your lawyer can also assist you with getting a Lasting Power of Attorney and help with execution of the Will upon your passing.
You will incur costs to get peace of mind. While the price of having a Will drafted is relatively cheap, you do still have to pay for it, and pay again for each update or change.
Resorting to a professional does not guarantee that the Will will not be contested.
You will have to deal with a third-party who might try to influence you, ask unnecessary questions or make the drafting of your Will a very complex affair.
You might be hesitant to update or change your Will if your circumstances change, so that your Will might no longer reflect your latest wishes in the end.
There’s no clear right or wrong answer here. If you’re willing to spend the time and effort to learn the relevant laws and statutes surrounding wills, it can be a fruitful exercise to write your own Will.
However, if you’re not willing (or unable) to spend the time to pick up will-drafting, it’s probably in your best interest to seek a professional Will drafter, preferably a lawyer. The last thing anyone needs is a will riddled with errors. A DIY Will that’s poorly drafted can save you money in the short term but create a mess for your heirs when you’re gone.
Writing a Will and updating your Will regularly is the very first step, and it’s an important one. But more importantly, you should register your updated Will and store it in a safe place. liteWill lets you register your Will and store an electronic copy of your Will. Otherwise, all the good work that you have done becomes irrelevant if your person of confidence is not able to find your Will in a timely manner. ‘A Will that is not registered is like a Will that does not exist’.
This portion of the website is for information only. The statements and opinions are the expression of their author, not of liteWill, and have not been evaluated for accuracy, completeness or changes in the law. Information contained in this article is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.
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