How things can go very wrong with a do-it-yourself will

This article looks at some of the risks of DIY will kits, particularly concerning improper execution.

Everybody should have a will, no matter how small or large their estate is. Without a will, the deceased's estate risks being distributed according to rules of succession that are laid down by state law rather than in accordance with the deceased's own wishes. As such, having a will is extremely important so as to ensure that family and loved ones are provided for after the testator (i.e., the willmaker) passes on. However, in recent years many people have been relying on DIY will kits rather than going to an estate planning attorney when drafting a will. Below is a look at why DIY will kits are becoming more popular and why they are so risky.

A bad will is better than no will?

There are a number of reasons DIY will kits are becoming a more common sight. Many people are concerned about the cost of a properly drafted will. When people see a will kit on sale for less than $100, they often think that even if the will kit isn't up to the same standards as a will that has been written by an attorney, it is at least better than nothing. In other cases, people get a will kit as a temporary measure before they have the resources to get a will properly done.

What can go wrong?

Unfortunately, as Forbes points out, taking the attitude that a bad will is better than no will is dangerous. Many things can go wrong with a DIY will kit. One of the most common problems concerns execution, which occurs when the will is signed and witnessed. Laws surrounding execution are strict and are designed to ensure the will actually reflects the testator's wishes. Many states, for example, require the witnesses to be in the presence of the testator and of one another when the will is signed. Many DIY wills, however, fail to inform people who use them of what the rules are in their respective states.

Which leads to another problem with DIY wills. As CNBC points out, DIY wills take a cookie-cutter approach to wills by using a single template for people across the country. While that may make writing the will seem easy, it overlooks the fact that estate succession laws are determined by individual states and not by the federal government. What is legal in one state may not be legal in the next. Furthermore, judges are required to follow the law, meaning that even if the will isn't being contested, it could still be thrown out by a judge if it was not executed properly.

Estate planning help

A lot is at stake, both financially and emotionally, when creating a will. Most people have a clear idea of who they want their estate to go to after they pass on, which is why it is so important to have a will that complies with all legal requirements and which has the best chance of being upheld by a court. An estate planning attorney can help clients draft just such a will so that their wishes will be respected and their loved ones provided for .