Are there disadvantages to writing one’s own will?

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2019 | Trust And Probate Litigation

At the end of the day, most California residents believe that a will is a document that outlines where one’s property will go in case of their death. Therefore, drafting a will should not be a complicated task-in fact, any person can create one in the comfort of their home if they have access to the Internet and a printer. These days, there are computer programs that generate wills that are straightforward enough for any layperson to understand and complete. Then why shouldn’t they be used?

The most important reason is the one attraction of the do-it-yourself document-it is simple, basic and straightforward. Most generated documents are complying with the laws of all 50 states, which is why they are kept as simple as possible. However, very few people have such basic situations. Any individual with a slightly more complicated situation will leave loved ones scrambling after their death, as their will won’t have covered many bases.

Secondly, deciding who gets what is only one aspect of a will. For example, wills also outline who is to take care of minor children and who is to handle their inheritance in case they are unable to do it for themselves. Creating a trust might be a better idea than leaving everything in a will, but an online version will not provide better alternatives.

Lastly, state laws regarding probate, gift tax, estate tax and inheritance tax are all over the place. Additionally, there are legal formalities that must be complied with in order to create a valid will. There are also certain state specific definitions for terms that an individual must be aware of, in order to include them properly in one’s will. A document that does not adhere to the requisite laws or does not cover every situation may not withstand trust and probate litigation, leaving loved ones in a situation worse off than what they would have been in had there been no document present.

Because drafting a will can be an important and complex task, it is important that individuals take the time to draft a document that meets his or her needs. Additionally, seeking legal guidance can ensure his or her wishes are memorialized in the document, and potential issues are likely avoided.