Our solo ager clients often ask “who should draft my will? Should I do it myself or hire a lawyer?”
Default: hire a reputable estate planning lawyer
The benefit is that you will have peace of mind that your will is done correctly, as opposed to using a computer program. Software is pretty good, but a human (in this case, an experienced attorney) will spot problems that a DIY will can miss.
A drawback is that hiring an experienced attorney can be costly, especially compared to using computer software.
Make sure to find any attorney who specializes in estate planning, not the guy who does DUIs and wills only on the side. (No offense to either subset of the profession, but these are just completely different skillsets).
DIY will tips
Will preparation software is a fine option these days, because it is much more developed than it was even five or ten years ago. Watch our previous episode where we reviewed some DIY options.
You may want to use a software program if you think you’ll make revisions quite often. Each revision with an attorney can be expensive. Simply changing a name can cost more than you’d think. Even if you just want to swap out “Joe” for “Bob” in your will, the attorney still has a duty to look over your entire estate plan and each document to make sure they are accurate and confirm that your situation hasn’t changed.
If you decide to draft the will yourself, please consider hiring a lawyer to at least supervise signing ceremony. This will ensure that the will is signed correctly, including the affidavits and the witnesses. You’d be surprised at the problems that can arise if the will isn’t signed properly.
You can usually find a local experienced estate planning attorney who can supervise the signing for a fraction of the estate planning cost. In this case, the attorney will not review your will for errors, but will simply supervise the signing process. Keep in mind that even if you’ve drafted a perfect will yourself, it is all for nothing if you fail the technicalities of the signing ceremony. It sounds like signing should be something simple, but we’ve even seen inexperienced attorneys mess it up.
Can my professional executor draft my will?
Sure, a professional executor can draft your will. I used to do a lot of estate plans, but now I’m 100% focused on being best executor possible for you. Being a professional executor is time consuming, and it doesn’t leave a lot of room to be good at extra jobs on the side.
Personally, I don’t have the software, fancy paper, or setup any more to draft wills. I would be doing it from scratch, and that’s not an ideal situation. However, I am happy to do a non-legal advice review of your draft plan to check for any glaring red flags. It’s a good idea to have a review to point out obvious mistakes that could blow up your whole estate plan.
If you want learn how probate works for Solo Agers, check out the link to my free book, “The Solo Ager Estate Plan.”
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