There are several potential legal problems that can arise with a do-it-yourself (DIY) will and testament. While DIY wills may seem convenient and cost-effective, they can lead to unintended consequences and legal issues. Here are some common problems associated with DIY wills:
- Inadequate or Incorrect Language: DIY wills often lack the precise and specific language required to accurately convey your wishes. The wording may be ambiguous, contradictory, or fail to meet the legal requirements of your jurisdiction. This can result in confusion, disputes, and potential challenges to the validity of the will.
- Failure to Comply with Formalities: Wills must meet certain formalities prescribed by law, such as being witnessed and signed in the presence of witnesses. DIY wills may overlook these requirements or fail to execute them correctly, rendering the will invalid.
- Failure to Address Complex Situations: DIY wills typically provide basic and generic provisions, which may not adequately address complex family situations, blended families, or specific asset distribution requirements. This can lead to disputes and legal challenges after your passing.
- Lack of Professional Guidance: DIY wills lack the expertise and legal guidance provided by an attorney. Attorneys who specialize in estate planning can offer personalized advice, consider your unique circumstances, and help ensure your will reflects your intentions while complying with applicable laws.
- Failure to Update: Life circumstances, such as marriages, divorces, births, deaths, and changes in financial situations, often require updates to a will. DIY wills may not include provisions or instructions on how to properly update or revoke the will, which can result in outdated or inconsistent estate plans.
- Potential Contestability: DIY wills are generally more susceptible to challenges and contests than wills prepared by attorneys. If your will is unclear, improperly executed, or raises doubts about your testamentary capacity, disgruntled heirs or interested parties may contest its validity, leading to legal disputes and added expenses.