Every once in a while a news article appears that describes how a person made a mistake when preparing a “do it yourself Will”. The legal profession often latch onto these articles as a warning for anybody thinking of preparing their own do it yourself Will, suggesting that if the person in the article made a mistake, it follows that you should probably seek legal advice.
Clearly people make mistakes. Even lawyers make mistakes when preparing Wills, like this one who had a couple accidentally sign each other’s Wills. However, it would be disingenuous to use this example as a cautionary tale, and suggest that you should avoid using a lawyer because they always get things wrong.
So I have gathered up some recent news articles, and looked at some of our own support questions and listed the six most common mistakes people make when preparing a do it yourself Will.
Most people have not got around to writing a Will. According to a recent survey 64% of adults in the US do not have a Last Will and Testament. The more significant concern though is that in the younger age groups (people under 35) the percentage is much higher.
90% of Americans aged 18-34 do not have a Will
80% of Americans aged 35-44 do not have a Will
83% of single Americans with children do not have a Will
The primary reason for this is that young single people simply don’t feel that they need a Will, and of those that do, writing a Will is certainly not an urgent task. It ends up being something that they simply haven’t “gotten around to”.
Here are some considerations for young single people who fall into one of these two camps; the deniers and the procrastinators. Continue reading
Much of our customer support effort is spent on correcting misunderstandings that have usually arisen from bad information that has been posted on the Internet. As with anything that you do once or twice in your lifetime, the terms will be unfamiliar, and there will be a lot to learn. But the task is made that much more difficult by woefully incorrect information that proliferates on different “advice blogs”. The example at the top of the page is from a reasonably well respected resource at Nerdwallet (we couldn’t help but post a comment under their article, so they may have fixed it if you click through). But this staff writer, who doesn’t appear to have any legal training has written; Continue reading
Everybody knows that they need to write a Will, but the stats show that only about a third of adults in the US have managed to get it done. Some say it’s the cost that puts people off, others say that it’s finding the time to make an appointment. In our experience of fielding calls through our customer service center, the real issue is that most people have no idea where to start. A very common call we receive is “I know I need to write a Will, what do I do?”. Here we have ten steps to go through to prepare your Will.
1. Choose your approach
You can take one of three approached to write a Will. The cheapest is to use a blank sheet of paper, or a blank form kit, and fill in the blanks explaining what you want to happen to your things after you have died. Continue reading
In the last week alone I have seen a number of people asking the question on the internet “Is it okay to prepare my own Will using an online Will service”. I have been shocked at the amount of misinformation that has been posted in reply.
To be clear, I am defending an interactive online Will service like the one at USLegalWills.com, I am not suggesting that you should prepare your Will using a blank form DIY Will kit that you could buy in Staples. The blank form kits are a disaster, but the online Will services are an excellent mid-ground for somebody who doesn’t want the inconvenience and cost of a lawyer, but still needs to have their Will in place.
These are some of the most egregious, incorrect warnings that I have seen in the last week.
1. You must use a lawyer
Written by a lawyer in response to a question on Quora.
We are seeing an increasing number of articles about “online Wills” but the definition seems to be vague. Let us explore what exactly is meant by an “online Will”.
What is a Last Will and Testament
There are clear laws as to what constitutes a legal Last Will and Testament and these laws are quite consistent across all jurisdictions. To be a legal Will, the document must be written or typed on a piece of paper, and usually it must be signed in the presence of two independent witnesses who have nothing to gain from the contents of the Will. We say “usually” because in some jurisdictions they accept a “holographic Will” which is entirely written in your own handwriting, and does not require the two witnesses.
There is one other exception; Continue reading
I heard that if I write my own Will out in my own handwriting, I do not need to have it witnessed, is this true?
If a Will is written entirely in your own handwriting, some States do not require that Will to be witnessed. This is known as a holographic Will or holograph Will.
The trouble is, States vary significantly in their acceptance of a holographic Will. Continue reading