With the amount of information available via the internet, many people have considered creating wills without hiring an attorney. While I will admit that, in some instances, a self made will may work as well as one prepared by an attorney, the process is fraught with pitfalls. For example, while a self made will may look like one prepared by an attorney, if it is not executed properly and challenged in court, it could be declared invalid and your assets will be distributed as if no will were in existence.
There are other pitfalls to consider as well. First of all, you need to determine how your assets are held. Any property that is jointly owned with another individual is considered a non-probate asset and will not be transferred as provided in your will. Therefore, if you have added one of your children’s names to your bank accounts for convenience, the money in those accounts goes directly to that child upon your death even if your will provides that your assets are split evenly among all of your children. Secondly, if you have minor children I recommend that you set up a separate trust to handle those assets if you and your spouse die before the children are a certain age. This gives you greater control over the distribution of those assets and eliminates the expense of probate administration after the will is allowed and your assets are transferred into the trust. Not all self made will kits provide for this.
Some of my clients have contacted me after attempting to create a self made will. When I have met with these clients, I have been able to provide them with information that they would not have had without consulting an attorney. I can state with some confidence that these clients are glad that they did consult me. Since I will come to your home and give you a free consultation, I believe it is worth your time to meet with me. Therefore, if you are considering preparing a self made will, please contact me first. You have nothing to lose.