Can I Write My Own Will?
Templates for DIY wills are easy to find but it’s not always the best option to write one on your own. In theory, you could scribble your wishes on a piece of scrap paper and as long as its signed and witnessed correctly, it should be legally binding. This doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Most wills follow the same general rules for what you say and how you word it. These standards are tried and tested and remove any confusion about what you mean. Using the wrong wording could mean that your instructions are not followed, or even that your will is not valid.
So, it’s an excellent idea to use a template that provides the standard sections and legal terms for you to follow.
In general, you should only write your own will if your wishes are very simple and don’t require external advice or support. For example, if you’re married and want to leave everything to your partner; or if your partner has passed on, you want to leave your whole estate to your children. If you have stepchildren or aren’t married to your partner, it is recommended that you use a lawyer or a will writing service.
Instances in which you should not write your own will:
- If you own property overseas or abroad
- There is a need to try and reduce tax payable
- You have money in foreign bank accounts or overseas investments
- If you are a business owner and are leaving the business to someone as part of your will
- You have people – other than your immediate family – who are financially dependent on you
- You have wishes that may be misunderstood or are slightly more complex
The risks of a DIY will:
Only write up a DIY will if your financial situation isn’t complicated and if you have very simple wishes. You might save money as compared to using a professional service, but if you get any details wrong you could be causing trouble for your loved ones when it comes to sorting out your estate after your passing.
Non-Traditional Families: Another thing to take into consideration is that all families are unique and different. What might work for another family when it comes to drafting a will may not work for the other. This is one of the things you need to know when going through free will kit reviews. Blended families and separated family units also need to be taken into consideration when writing a will. You need a comprehensive understanding of estate planning laws that are relevant to the state you live in. If you find that your family is a bit complicated, engaging an Estate Planning Lawyer will be a wise decision. They will be able to guide and ensure that you produce a legally valid Will.
Also remember that if you use a will template, the company who supplied it will not take responsibility if your will is correctly written. If you make mistakes which cause problems once your will is read, there won’t be any legal comeback. It could even mean that your will is invalid, and the law then decides who your estate should go to.
If you decide to DIY:
Make absolutely sure that you have covered the following main points:
- Ensure the will is signed, dated and witnessed appropriately and correctly.
- Check your spelling carefully – especially with peoples’ names.
- Be incredibly detailed in your language. For example, don’t just say ‘my husband’ or ‘my wife’, use their full name.
- Destroy and revoke any old wills. If you already have one, make sure to destroy it and clearly state that the new one revokes the previous will.
- Inform your executor where the document will be stored as they will need to know this information when you die.
Why would a company offer a free templates to write your own will?
Doing a Google search for online will writing services, and you will be presented with ads by companies offering free online will services. You are probably wondering why you would ever appoint a lawyer, given that a company will write your will for free! What then is the difference between what the attorney offers and what these free and low cost services offer?
There are hidden costs.
This is an approach that is taken by many online companies. They tend to advertise their Will service as free, but then ask you to enter credit card details. There is usually information that tells you that If you cancel the service within seven days, you will pay nothing, but if you fail to cancel, they will deduct money from your account. There are many free will kit reviews with people complaining that they forgot to cancel and money was deducted from their account. Some services let you enter your details and allow you to cancel, but they will still deduct money from your account.
Many people think “that’s no problem; I’ll make sure that I cancel“. But it turns out that these companies intentionally designed the cancellation process to be extremely difficult or even impossible. You can be made to hold your call for hours on end, and you will probably give up because of frustration. This free service can end up costing you several precious hours of your time. If it so happens that you don’t notice the charges, you can end up losing hundreds of dollars.
The service makes money in different ways.
This is an approach that is taken by several service providers as well. The first method they might use is to have you name the service provider as the Executor. This strategy is borrowed from traditional estate planning attorneys. They sometimes offer free Will writing services knowing well that the rewards for Executor services are way more lucrative. Most Executors charge a percentage of the estate. What this means is that if you were passing everything to your spouse, and it was worth about $250,000, the Executor might take a fixed percentage of say 5% from that amount for a single day’s work.
The second strategy employed by these companies is to sell data to other complementary companies. Since their websites collect your personal information, they can then sell it to funeral pre-planners and insurance companies and. There are some free legal will kit reviews which mention that the companies might even pass the exact details of your will.