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Could a DIY will make the cut for you and your family?

Nowadays, we can ask Google for anything we need. It knows where the nearest gas station is and how to get there. The internet provides us with endless answers and resources.

Some of those resources include countless options of "do-it-yourself" wills available to Wisconsin families. These wills seem to be the perfect solution for many people. DIY wills give them the time to work on their will and save money.

However, do DIY wills really make the cut for our needs?

DIY wills work, but there are many factors to consider with any will

Making a last will is not often as easy as it sounds. There are many steps to create a legally binding--and effective--will, including:

  1. Taking an inventory of all property
  2. Deciding who to trust as executor
  3. Determining who gets what assets
  4. Then, typing up the whole document
  5. Finding two disinterested witnesses
  6. Dating and signing the document 

While individuals can certainly complete these steps and meet these conditions with a DIY will, even missing one step of the process could make a will invalid.

Language is more important than you might think

Sometimes, everything boils down to the wording of a will.

Wills do not have to include legal jargon. In fact, they shouldn't. That way, the will is explicitly clear for all beneficiaries.

However, there are specific ways to phrase things that will ensure the will is valid, and one's family is protected. Appropriate word choice could help individuals:

  • Minimize estate taxes
  • Avoid will contests during probate
  • Prevent future legal challenges

If someone chooses to make a DIY will, they must take great care in their word choice.

A DIY will might save you money--but it might cost your family

We all learn from a young age to beware of things that sound too good to be true. And that could be the case with some DIY wills.

This Forbes article explains that DIY wills might save the creator of the will some time and money, but their family might face significant challenges and expenses in the long-term. The article outlines situations where DIY wills left many families facing time in court to resolve issues, including:

  • Improper DIY wills that led to serious issues in probate
  • Whether handwritten amendments applied
  • Even small typos in DIY wills that affected the validity of the will
  • Complex situations involving estate taxes and debts

A DIY will could still work. However, it is just as important to think about the actual execution of a will as well as the creation of it.

A will is a will

Making a will online does not make it any less viable than a will made in an estate planning office. As long as individuals adhere to Wisconsin laws and ensure they meet all of the legal requirements, a DIY will works just as well.

A will is a very personal document. And it is ultimately up to each individual how they want to speak for themselves after they are gone.

However, people who choose to make a DIY will must take great care. It may even be possible--and even beneficial--to combine the processes, and have an experienced attorney review the DIY will afterward.

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Law Offices of Mark S. Knutson, S.C. | 14170 West Greenfield Avenue | Brookfield, WI 53005 | Phone: 262-649-1241 | Map & Directions