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Can You Make A Will Without A Lawyer’s Help?

Mar 30, 2023 | Estate Planning

Making a will isn’t typically the first thing on someone’s to-do list. In fact, 67% of Americans have no estate plan. This is usually because of some common misconceptions related to wills, like that they can be and should be completed later on in life, or that they’re primarily for those who are wealthy. However, a will can be an extremely useful legal tool for anyone who owns property or has minor children. It can ensure that your assets and children (if you have them) end up with the right people in the event of your death or incapacitation. Protecting loved ones is something on most people’s to-do list, after all! 

Creating a will helps you do just that, but it shouldn’t be done on your own. While it is possible to create a will without the help of a lawyer, it wouldn’t be in the best interest of you or your family, as it is very easy to make mistakes when you don’t have seasoned legal guidance on your side. Is it possible for you to create one on your own? Yes. Should you make one on your own? The short answer is no. 

Why Should I Seek Out A Will And Trust Lawyer To Make A Will?

You may have heard that establishing a proper will can be time-consuming and costly, but the protection and peace of mind it can offer you and your loved ones is priceless. In the midst of a quick Google search on Georgia wills, it is likely you’ve come across several free online templates that you can use to create a will from home and without fees and the help of a lawyer. While this might seem appealing at first glance, it can ultimately lead to mistakes down the road that will cost you more than the services of a will and trust lawyer would, and that may cause tremendous stress for your loved ones should you pass away or become incapacitated. 

The lack of a will, or the lack of a will that is legally valid, may create the need for your assets to go through Georgia’s probate process, which is extensive, expensive, and taxing on the people you love most. Your will also might not clarify your wishes like you think, as you might not be aware of the necessary legal language needed to accurately complete a will. This can ultimately leave your family feeling uncertain during an already emotional time. 

A seasoned will and trust lawyer can explain your legal rights and options for which type of will is best suited for you, as well as guide you through the legal process to ensure that your wishes are properly clarified. This can give you a sense of relief knowing you’re keeping your family out of a difficult situation down the line. 

Some of your options for a will include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • A living will – tells which kinds of medical treatments you would and would not like to have if you were to fall ill or become incapacitated, as well as other preferences like pain management and organ donation. 
  • A simple will – outlines how you’d like your assets to be handled and distributed upon your death.
  • A joint will – typically a will used by couples who want to name each other as beneficiaries. 
  • Pour-over wills – work with a trust and transfer assets into the trust when you pass on. 
  • And more. 

Common Problems With A Do-It-Yourself Will

Free online templates aren’t regarded as a safe way to create a will because of how easily they enable someone to make a costly mistake. Some of the common mistakes often made by people who try to take a DIY approach include: 

  • Including assets you don’t actually own.

Some people will account for belongings as an asset without realizing that they don’t legally own them. 

  • Failing to include dependents. 

If you plan to give things to your children and to certain family members in your will, or to exclude your children or other family members from your will entirely, it is best to do so with a full understanding of what that entails and how to do this in a way the courts will recognize; it needs to be tailored to your unique family. Do-it-yourself templates cannot offer that. 

  • Inaccurate signature (missing witness signatures)

A do-it-yourself will has to be signed in the presence of two witnesses and also notarized. 

  • Misspelled names

While this seems rather simple to ensure, it is overlooked by many, and you’d be surprised by the legal headaches this can cause later on.

  • Illegal or missing clauses (invalid will)

Whoever wrote the free template could have set it up incorrectly. It’s possible it is missing the necessary legal language or clauses. 

  • Failing to keep it up to date as there is no third-party involvement

Writing it initially might be simple, but it may not go into effect for 30+ years, so ensuring that it’s continually kept up to date can be challenging. 

While a do-it-yourself will save you some money now, it can create expensive issues down the line. Prioritizing getting your affairs in order and working with an experienced will and trust lawyer is the best way to avoid these mistakes and maximize protection for your loved ones and your assets! 

What Fouts Law Group Can Do For You

With nearly three decades of experience, Georgia estate planning attorney Jeff Fouts of  Fouts Law Group knows how to properly design a will that will set you and your family up for success. If you’re unsure about what type of will you need, he can explain your options and help you decide what kind will fit your needs best, and guide you through the steps of the estate planning process. Jeff knows that every client is different, and so is every estate plan. He is passionate about using a personalized approach to helping clients create customized plans for the future! 

As a registered investment advisor and published author, Mr. Fouts has a thorough knowledge of Georgia’s estate planning laws, which can give you an advantage when creating a will. He strives to use his legal knowledge to make the planning process as simple and stress-free as possible. Don’t procrastinate – no one is guaranteed tomorrow! Call Fouts Law Group today to schedule a free consultation. 

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