Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Wills are Hardly the Right Investment for Your Family

Making Wills Easy – New Summer Series 7

One DIY will I read stated: “I leave the first ten percent of my worldly goods to God.” I wondered how would anyone arrange delivery? The person’s good intentions were clear. But they could still end up the villain in their own story.

The problem with DIY wills is that you can’t:

1) judge the quality of your DIY will
2) determine what is missing or what you left out or forgot
3) know if you cheated yourself or loved ones.

Legally, you don’t need lawyers to make wills. That’s true. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in legal advice to prevent problems. It is dangerous to act without legal advice.

Lawyers can explain tax, property, estate and family laws that strictly apply to you. Only lawyers can provide legal opinions to confirm wills are valid. There is no substitute for good legal advice for your particular will needs.

DIY wills have hidden costs if you don’t cover key issues. Sure, you think all the information in the world is online. You can figure out how to make a will. But Google doesn’t provide legal advice. You need legal advice about your legal obligations. We have complex laws that can restrict what you can do in your will.

Here are some general rules to follow about DIY wills.

Never use DIY wills when you:

1. Are getting married
2. Have cognitive impairment or memory issues
3. Are separated from your partner
4. Have a common law spouse
5. Were recently hospitalized
6. Have second homes, rental property or business assets
7. Need to save probate tax
8. Own or will inherit assets outside the country
9. Need help choosing executors
10. Have minor children or dependants with special needs

Did You Make a DIY Will? Then Ask Yourself These Questions:

• Do you think your estate is so simple that you don’t need expert advice?  yes / no
You’d be surprised how many problems can arise, even in small estates when clear directions are not left in your will.

• Do you think you can’t afford help?  yes / no
Good professional advice comes in all price ranges. Find advice that suits your budget. It pays dividends in the long run.

• Do you feel doing it yourself is better than nothing?  yes / no
I know of a man who did his own will and left everything to his wife, or so he thought. He left out one sentence and actually left his estate to charity.

• Are you insured for a mistake?  yes / no
Legislation and court decisions change laws that affect wills every day. Licensed lawyers make wills for a living and are insured.

• Does your DIY will have victims who are silent?  yes /no
Are you aware that you may be dragging your family members into your legal problems? When you are gone, they will have to pick up the pieces.

• Did you get a second opinion about your DIY will?  yes / no
If you have planned your estate yourself, do everyone a favour and have your handiwork checked by professionals.

Your Last Will Is an Investment That Your Family Inherits

Lawyer-prepared wills are investments that save money. Good wills can last 5-10 years or more. Spread the cost of making your will over 5-10 years and that is pennies a day of protection. It is also much less than any of your annual insurance bills.

Lawyers make wills for a living. They are regulated, have expertise and are insured against will mistakes. Don’t gamble doing your own will. You are making poor investments for your family and money. Your family may only inherit your mess.

You may not have much money. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to have a will. Your estate assets can include real estate, household contents, investments, life insurance, accident and death benefits, pensions, stocks, personal effects, cars, art and jewelry.

Wills are the least expensive ways you can protect your money and loves ones.

Make your will like you care.

See my introduction to this Summer series. Contact me to make an appointment.