Why should you avoid a do-it-yourself will?

You may have heard about websites that advertise cheap estate planning tools. This may seem like an easy alternative to making a will with a lawyer. However, there are a number of things to watch out for concerning do-it-yourself (DIY) wills.

DIY wills often don’t account for complicated matters

It can be difficult to factor in complex topics into a DIY will—especially if your financial and personal lives are complicated. If your DIY will attempts to take care of very detailed arrangements, such as conditions on heirs or coordinating beneficiary designations, your will might not be recognized as valid.

DIY wills are often not specific to your state

There is a wide range of estate planning laws across the country. Your DIY will may not adhere to your state’s specific laws. For example, Illinois requires two witnesses to make your will valid.

DIY wills often have mistakes

If you’re not familiar with estate planning laws in Illinois and you’re completing your DIY will by yourself, it’s likely it will contain errors. If these mistakes are evident, your family will likely have to resolve your will in court. Contesting a will could cost thousands.

The court may not recognize your beneficiary designations

You might have a retirement account or a life insurance policy where you named a beneficiary. If you named a different beneficiary for these accounts in your DIY will, it’s unlikely that this person will receive those assets.

You may be hesitant about making a will with a lawyer because you think it’s just a simple form you can fill out online. The reality is that wills can become complicated quickly, especially if you have many assets and specific family dynamics. Speaking with an attorney could help you secure the future you imagined for your family and assets.

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CAP - Council of Advanced Practitioners | NAELA - National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.
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