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Why You Should Not Use a DIY Will

For most people, the first document they create when working on an estate plan is a Last Will and Testament. It can be tempting to use a “Do-It-Yourself” Will form found on the internet when you decide to create a Will. A Murfreesboro wills lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains why you should resist the temptation to use a DIY Will when you create your Will.

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Why Do I Need a Will?

Although you may not have a valuable estate in terms of monetary value, you may have possessions that have sentimental value to you. For example, you probably care what happens to family heirlooms or items that represent a special time in your life. Moreover, you may have already told family members or friends that you plan to leave those items to them when you are gone. In the absence of a Will, however, the State of Tennessee will decide who gets all your assets using the state’s intestate succession laws. Failing to execute a Will also means that you lose the opportunity to decide who oversees the administration of your estate as well as nominate a guardian for your minor children.

The Problem with DIY Wills

Given the ubiquitous nature of the internet today, it can be tempting to jump online an search for a fill-in-the blank Last Will and Testament form when it is time to create your Will. You may think that going that route will save you time and money; however, in the long run it may end up costing your loved ones considerably more of both. Consider the following common problems with DIY Will forms:

  • Out of date language or law. For any Will to accomplish its intended purpose, it needs to conform with current law and procedures. Unfortunately, the DIY Will form you come across online may have been floating around the internet for years. Consequently, the language used in the form and/or the law upon which the entire form is based may have changed since the form was designed. Ultimately, the entire document could be useless.
  • Not distributing your entire estate.  One of the primary reasons for executing a Will is to avoid leaving behind an intestate estate. With a DIY Will form, however, you run a significant risk of that form failing to distribute your entire estate. If that happens, the assets that are left will trigger the need for an intestate estate proceeding – precisely what you were trying to avoid by executing a Will.
  • Failing to address state specific laws or procedures.  Most of the laws that govern Wills and probate are state laws. To ensure that your Will is valid, therefore, it must be tailored to the laws and procedures of the state in which you are a resident. DIY Will forms, however, are frequently just fill-in-the-blank forms that are intended to be used in any state without regard for specific state laws or procedures.
  • Problems with how documents interact. An estate plan typically incorporates several important documents. For the overall plan to work as intended, those documents must successfully interact with each other. A DIY Will form may fail to interact with other estate planning documents or may counteract existing documents.
  • Failing to properly execute the Will. Each state determines what is required for a Will to be legally executed. If you fail to follow the required procedures for executing your Will, the court may reject the Will when it is submitted for probate. DIY Will forms often fail to provide instructions for executing the document once it is ready to be signed.

Contact a Murfreesboro Wills Lawyer

If you have additional questions about why using a DIY Will form is not a wise choice, or if you are ready to get started creating your Last Will and Testament, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro Wills lawyer to ensure that your Will is properly drafted and executed. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.

Stan Bennett