Can You DIY Your Will In CA?

last will and testament

If you Google “creating a will,” you will likely find a multitude of websites that offer you forms that may allow you to prepare your own will. They sell these forms for what they claim is an affordable price, enabling you to make your will cheaply. Although these are perfectly legal, and some people actually use these one-size-fits-all forms to make their will, many families come to regret trying to take a DIY approach to prepare a will. When the time comes that the family needs the will, there may be errors or omissions that make their life much harder.

If you are considering executing a will, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. There is simply too much at stake to leave your estate planning to chance. To schedule a consultation with a Los Angeles estate planning lawyer, call us today.

You Get What You Pay for with Standardized Forms

If you think that saving money on preparing a will is the best thing, you may be putting your family’s long-term well-being at risk to save a few hundred dollars in the short term. Even if you have an expertly crafted form, you would still need to review your own situation to see if how you have organized your will is legally consistent and makes sense.

Getting legal help on your will is an investment for both the well-being and the future of your family. When the time comes that your family needs the will, they do not want to have to go through uncertainty and legal issues. Everyone is always free to handle their own legal matters. However, paying an attorney could be what is best for your family in the short and long run.

Your Will Must Withstand the Probate Process

When a person dies, and they leave a will, their estate must go through the probate process before the property can be distributed. The first part of probate is validating and authenticating the will. If the will does not meet legal requirements, it may not be considered valid. However, a family may not learn that a will is invalid until they actually need it. Then, a court may have to apply California state law in order to divide the estate’s assets. The testator’s wishes may then not be heeded.

When a will goes through probate, an interested party may choose to challenge it in court. They may be dissatisfied with how the will treats them if they are even named in it at all. A will contest often looks at the circumstances surrounding the formation of the will to see if there was something like undue influence on the testator, a lack of capacity by the testator, or even fraud in the execution. Although hiring an attorney to help prepare the will may not completely prevent the possibility of a will contest, it would certainly help put the will on firmer legal standing in case it is challenged.

Your Will Is Legally Binding Once it is Signed and Witnessed

In addition, a will is a binding legal document once it is signed and executed. Every word and comma in the will is given legal effect. If you try to DIY your own will, you may make a mistake by using ambiguous terms or even having provisions that conflict with each other. If there are any inconsistencies or mistakes, a court may be called upon to try to interpret the language in the will. A probate judge would look at the language in the four corners of the document, and they may not be interested in what you intended at the time. Thus, your own wishes may not come into play. If you hire an attorney to help prepare your will, they can ensure that the language reflects what you actually want in clear terms.

Certainly, if there are any complexities involved in your estate, you should get the help of an attorney. You need to form the will while you are of sound mind and are still able to execute an enforceable legal document.

Circumstances in Which You Need an Attorney Immediately

While it is certainly true that everyone should consult with an attorney about their estate plan, there are certain circumstances that make the need even more pressing. Some of these include:

  • You are a business owner and need to plan how to hand your business down to your heirs
  • You need to arrange for long-term care for a beneficiary
  • You have children and need to select a guardian and formulate your wishes for how they are to be raised
  • You have a fear that a difficult family member may try to contest the terms of the will or its validity
  • You have more complex plans than simply handing property down to family members
  • You have a large estate, and you have potential estate tax issues
  • There is a potential that you may need a more complex instrument, such as a trust

While legal fees may seem daunting now, they pale in comparison to what your family would have to spend if there were legal issues concerning a will in probate. In addition, part of the reason why you make a will is so that you can have peace of mind to know that your family can more easily inherit your assets. It makes sense to spend the extra money now, so you do not have to worry in the future.

Contact a Los Angeles County Estate Planning Attorney Today

The Arshakyan Law Firm works with families on common-sense estate planning solutions that meet your needs. You can trust us to work with you closely to ensure that your wishes are made known and that there are no mistakes in your vital estate planning documents. You and your family should not have to worry in the future when you already have enough on your plate. To learn more about how our attorneys can help you, call us today at (888) 851-5005  for a FREE consultation or send us a message online.