Why You Really Shouldn’t Write Your Own Will
This e is a follow-up to my recent post regarding the importance of having a will.
Writing your will yourself is a bad financial return on investment. The money you save by not using an attorney to draft your will, will be spent many times over on others lawyers by your surviving family as they try to straighten out the mess you created.
Plus the chances are that, unless you have done it perfectly, it will be null and void.
When you write out your own will on a piece of paper it is called a holographic will. The rules to keep it in force are very strict. All the handwriting must be in your handwriting with no other notations made on the paper.
- If you make a mistake, don’t cross it out. It will void the will. You need to start over.
- Do not have a witness sign your holographic will, it will make the will null and void.
- If you need to make a change, you need to write the whole thing over again.
- Once you are deceased, who is available to verify that the handwriting is yours?
- States that either do not recognize a holographic will or may challenge it include: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The biggest problem with most holographic wills is that they often don’t tell the whole story of the wishes of the person that died. My previous blogs talked about the importance of naming an executor, clearly identifying all your beneficiaries, and using a lawyer to create a last will and testament that is as specific as possible.
Some typical examples of problems found in holographic wills include statements like “I want to leave everything to my favorite teacher.” Who, what school, what grade? The will may bequeath the house, the life insurance, and savings account to someone but fails to identify the beneficiary for the stock certificates or pension plan benefits of the deceased.
Lastly, let’s say you are specific about who your beneficiaries are in your holographic will, and they die before you. Then what?
Long story short, when it comes to making your will, you get what you pay for.
- Do your homework and create an outline of what you would like to have happen to your assets when you die.
- Do consult with an attorney that specializes in drafting wills.
- Do it now.