The Will Writing Process
By Melissa Broad, Contributing Writer.
There are several ways of getting your will written. Here’s what to expect and how to choose which is right for you:
Even if you feel confident writing your will on your own, proceed with caution. It’s easy to make mistakes and ensure you are familiar with the rules and regulations – if in doubt, speak to an expert.
There are three main options to choose from:
Using a lawyer:
Lawyers are the experts, which is why this is the most expensive option. It will, however, give you most peace of mind, especially if your wishes are complex.
Consider a lawyer if:
Your estate might be liable to pay inheritance tax, (although this is only true in a handful of states).
You have a complicated family situation, such as former partners or estranged children, and want to ensure your wishes will be met.
You want to protect someone after you’ve passed on – for example, a disabled family member.
You want to talk through your options with a pro, or need support you can trust.
Using a will-writing service:
This is a cheaper option than a lawyer and offers some support and advice, but it is a case of getting exactly what you pay for.
If you’re deciding between a will writer and a lawyer, remember the following:
A will writer will not necessarily be legally qualified.
A will-writing service may not have been trading as long as a legal firm – this is important especially if you want them to store your will.
Will writers are not regulated in the same way as attorneys so if things go wrong, there is less of a comeback for you. Try to use a will writer who is a member of a professional organization.
Writing your own will:
The cheapest – but perhaps riskiest – way to make a will is to write it yourself. You have the option of buying templates online or in some stores.
This is only a suitable option if your affairs are very simple and straightforward, and if you do not require extensive advice or support. The template should show what you need to do to ensure the document is correctly signed, dated and witnessed. It is of vital importance that you follow these rules, otherwise there is a risk it will be invalid.
Note that laws about inheritances can change between the time of you writing your will and when you die. This is another reason it can be considered risky to write your own, but it is possible.