Do I Need a Lawyer for a Will?

By Barbara Diggs

If you've decided to make a will, but you’re not sure how to go about creating it, you have two options: you can either hire a lawyer to help you, or you can do it yourself. Both situations have distinct advantages; however, the right option for you depends on your specific circumstances.

If you've decided to make a will, but you’re not sure how to go about creating it, you have two options: you can either hire a lawyer to help you, or you can do it yourself. Both situations have distinct advantages; however, the right option for you depends on your specific circumstances.

Advantages of Writing Your Own Will

The primary benefit of drafting a will yourself is cost. Lawyers generally charge between a few hundred to several thousand dollars to draft a will. However, the price of do-it-yourself online will programs ranges from $20 to $200 or more, while writing the entire will yourself costs you nothing. If your assets and bequests are simple and straightforward, and you are careful to comply with state law, writing a will without a lawyer should generally not pose a problem.

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Advantages of Hiring a Lawyer

Having a lawyer draft your will can buy you peace of mind. A lawyer can ensure that the will complies with state law, provides the best tax advantages for your estate and heirs, and accounts for particulars in your specific circumstances. In short, you may feel more assured that the document will stand up in court even if contested, and that your wishes will be carried out as desired.

Considerations

If you chose to write a will without a lawyer, be sure to carefully research applicable state laws, particularly with respect to spousal inheritance laws, the signing of the will and any requirements relating to witness. In addition, write your wishes as clearly as possible because ambiguity in a will can render it invalid. If you use an online program to draft your will, read all instructions carefully and follow them to the letter. Some programs offer to have a lawyer review your documents for extra cost, an option that may give you additional peace of mind while saving you money.

When to Hire a Lawyer

In some circumstances, hiring a lawyer to draft your will is the least risky option. You should probably hire a lawyer if you have assets in multiple countries or states, have minor children, have been remarried, are in a same-sex relationship, own a small business, possess assets over $2 million or believe your will might be contested. A lawyer may also be a good idea if you do not understand the online forms or believe that the forms do not meet your particular needs.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
Do-It-Yourself Last Will and Testament

References

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Legal Will Information

A last will and testament is a legal document detailing the manner in which you want your possessions disposed after your death. Even though you may not want to think about such matters, creating a will is a wise thing to do. If you die intestate, meaning without a will, a court will distribute your property according to state law. Having a valid will can ensure that your assets will be divided in the manner that you view as fair.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Doing Wills Online

You can privately prepare your will online through a will preparation website, but whether or not online will drafting is right for you depends on your financial and personal circumstances. An attorney may be needed to prepare your will and review the document for accuracy and compliance with your state's legal standards, especially if you are providing for the guardianship of minor children.

How to Create Last Wills

Many still neglect the one document that is, arguably, the most important of their lifetime: their last will and testament. Whether they feel it is not important, or they fear they cannot afford to draft one, too many decedents pass away without leaving behind any instructions. In fact, you can create your own will with little out-of-pocket expense, either by yourself or with the assistance of a legal professional, and save your loved ones the stress and confusion of intestacy probate.

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