Why would anybody want to write their own will? Well, it could be an attempt to save money. But many people who have wills can easily afford the fees. Sometimes it is ego-driven, they think they are smart and can do it by themselves. It could be because they discovered a do-it-yourself will. Others try to write their own wills just because they can.
These are smart, well educated and accomplished individuals with significant assets who think nothing about the risks of writing their own wills. They do this at the risk of making some pretty poor decisions that could hurt their family in the event of their demise.
Say you have a broken electrical outlet in your home. You could run to Home Depot, buy a new outlet and swap it out for the broken one yourself. This will save you a few bucks not having to call an electrician. And in most cases, everything will be fine.
However, what if you messed something up? You could electrocute yourself or burn the house down. The risk certainly isn’t worth the money you saved.
Goldberg and Associates, your estate lawyer in Atlanta, offers reasons why you shouldn’t write your own will.
A catastrophic event could wipe out your entire family. This is what is often called a worst-case scenario. This leaves your great aunt’s second cousin as the person who inherits your entire estate. Too bad you never even met her.
This is called the laughing heir problem because your great aunt’s second cousin is laughing all the way to the bank. Too bad you didn’t have help with writing your will, this could have been avoided.
It is not uncommon for people to have a previous marriage, or previous marriages for that matter. And even if you have only been married once, many of the people in your will can’t say the same thing.
When writing your own will, it is all too easy to overlook the fact that beneficiaries, trustees or guardians could divorce at some point and remarry later. Accounting for those relationship changes could be overlooked if you are writing your own will.
Plan B and C and D
You might write your own will and when you die, everything works out just the way you planned. Of course, this will not always be the case. What would happen if you left everything to your wife, but she was in the vehicle with you when it plunged over the cliff.
Not to be grim, but you and your spouse could die together, then what would happen with your estate? This is one reason why you need an alternative plan. The same holds true concerning your children. You could leave everything to your kids, but this is no guarantee that they aren’t in the vehicle with you when something bad happens.
It is easy enough figuring out who gets what when you die. It might even be pretty straightforward. But there are other issues you have to deal with that take much more thought.
For example, if you own a business, it will likely continue to run after you are gone. But who will run it? In addition, you need to consider the ongoing expenses of the business that need to be paid on a continuing basis, like payroll and rent. It makes perfect sense to have an expert help out with this.
You probably don’t speak legalese, many people who do their own will don’t. So you put down what you want to happen when you die in easy to understand terms. Except will others understand what you really mean? What might seem crystal clear to you could be confusing to others.
Taking the time and spending the money to discuss your plans with an attorney can clear up any confusion others might have. Your will will be written correctly, in the correct language and you will feel less aggravated about the whole process.
We always recommend you seek the counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney if you have any questions about writing a will or estate planning in general. If you have questions, give Goldberg and Associates a call.