The Problem with DIY Wills

As a team of Texas estate planning attorneys, we often face similar questions from the clients and prospective clients we meet. One such question that many clients ask is: what’s the problem with a DIY will? Our short answer, which we will delve into more through this blog, is that a “do it yourself” will only works until it doesn’t work. While it can end up being legally valid, there are often complications that arise, and it’s often not worth the risk to you and to your loved ones down the road.

As online legal services become more and more popular, many individuals become increasingly interested in getting an online will. These wills do not require speaking to an estate planning attorney, but instead allow you to fill out online forms and quickly get a will that might work for you. There are three main issues that we see with these wills, and we will address each issue below.

1. Is the Will Valid?

In Texas, there are several requirements that a will must meet in order to be valid. It must, for example, be executed properly, self-proving, and written down. It must make sense and it must be able to survive legal scrutiny during probate. While an online will might meet these requirements, odds are there might be some difficulties that the will does not take into consideration.

2. Does the Will Actually Reflect My Wishes?

When crafting a will, it is important to consider all of the different ways a will can be interpreted. There is a certain order of operations that is necessary to keep in mind when writing a will, and there are certain terms you need to know. For example, is your property community property or separate property? And how does this delineation affect who inherits the property in the event of your death?

If you want, for example, for your property to go to your son – do you write in your will that your property goes to your son, your son’s estate in the event of his death, your son’s spouse in the event of his incapacitation, or your son’s children as beneficiaries of your son? It is important to consider these nuances and how they relate to your own individual goals and priorities.

3. How Difficult will the Will be to Probate?

Your estate plan will likely have to pass through probate, which will become more difficult if the will is missing certain characteristics. For example, is the will holographic, or handwritten? If so, the handwriting will have to be proven in court to be yours. The will could also be typewritten but not properly executed. You might need extra witnesses to testify to the will’s legitimacy, or there might be questions about your capacity when writing the will. Because of the vast number of questions that can pop up during probate, online wills can often fail to serve clients in the long-term.

Do You Need a Houston Estate Planning Attorney By Your Side?

Writing and executing a will is complicated. Don’t leave things to chance – contact a Houston estate planning attorney that can walk you through the process and make sure your will is detailed enough and legally binding, so that your loved ones are taken care of after you are gone. To set up a consultation with a member of our team, call us today at 713-597-7176. You can also fill out our online form, and an attorney will reach out to talk with you about the details of your case.

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