Homemade Wills: A Bargain?

Nov 3, 2010

“Bargain hunting” is very tricky business because as we all know, you get what you pay for, and quality matters. Most (if not all) of us have had the experience of buying something because it seemed like a “good deal” only to find out that the product was essentially useless a couple of days or weeks later.

When you see claims on the Internet that sound too good to be true, they usually are, and this is applicable to do-it-yourself will creation kits and software. There is no substitute for sound legal advice from an experienced professional, and those who attempt to create homemade wills generally recognize that what they purchased is not going to be sufficient. Wills are not cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all documents. Every estate is unique, and probate laws differ in each jurisdiction. As a layman armed with some Internet instructions or a generic software template you simply are not prepared to draft a legally binding document that addresses every twist and turn of the probate process in your state of residence.

The good news is that most people are well aware of the fact that legal matters require sound legal advice, but some of those pitches can be tempting. The main reason why you can’t just state your wishes in your own words or fill in the blanks on a template is the fact that the will must go through the probate process upon your passing.

Probate lawyers are intimately aware of the machinations of the probate or surrogate court in the state or states that they practice in. They also consult with their clients in person and come away with a complete understanding of the specifics of each individual case. No “kit” or DIY program can address every detail of each state’s probate laws, and they certainly cannot provide one-on-one assistance and advice.

The legal document that will govern the administration of your estate is not something to take lightly. Engage the services of a professional when it comes to drawing up your will or trust and leave bargain hunting for another day.

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