Writing Your Own Will: Dangers and Pitfalls

Many people each month search for “how to make a will” or “how to write a will without a lawyer” in hopes that they can create their own will without having to pay a lawyer for this service. While it may be possible to write a will without a lawyer, the consequences of doing so often significantly outweigh the cost of hiring a professional to handle this important responsibility.

Below, we outline the requirements for writing a will in Colorado. However, we also discuss some of the pitfalls of doing this yourself and explain why having a probate lawyer prepare your will is probably a better option

Requirements for a Last Will and Testament in Colorado

The requirements to make a valid will in Colorado are:

  • You must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind.
  • Your will must be in writing.
  • You must sign your will in front of two witnesses who sign your will within a reasonable time after witnessing it or be attested to before a notary public.

While this information may seem straightforward, writing a will is a very complex process. Certain words have specific meanings under the law. If you fail to include certain provisions in your will, you can leave property unaccounted for in your will or can make things harder for your beneficiary or executor. Also, a will that is not properly executed can be invalidated by the court, so the protection you meant to provide for your loved ones by creating a will can quickly be lost. We highly recommend that you seek legal assistance from a qualified estate planning lawyer rather than trying to write your own will.

Dangers of Online Will Templates

You may have searched “how to write your own will” online and came across a Colorado will template. However, note that sites that provide these services do not typically guarantee that these documents comply with the latest versions of the law and include long disclaimers about how they do not provide legal advice, so you use the products at your own risk. Our firm has represented clients when these online template services fail to result in a usable will. When you use sites like this, you have no one to guide you through the process or to ensure your will is properly executed. This increases the risk that your will may not be valid and that your estate will litigate the issue after your passing. By taking this shortcut of using a will template, you all but guarantee that you will have an inferior product that does not meet your unique needs and may not even be legally valid.

Why It Is Not a Good Idea to Write Your Own Will

Writing your own will is not always the best idea. In fact, a contributor to Forbes says that people who write their own wills do so “at the risk of wreaking havoc down the road when their estate is administered.” The author mentions that even if you save a few bucks by not paying a lawyer, your heirs may incur large legal bills when they unravel “the mess left behind.”

Some of the reasons why it may not be in your best interest to write your own will include:

Legal Jargon Can Be Confusing 

Writing a will involves complex legal jargon you might not be familiar with. If you don’t understand a term, you could write something that does not match your intention. This can affect how your property is distributed to your beneficiaries and how your estate is administered.

You May Have a Complicated Situation 

If you use a will template, it might not account for your individual situation, such as:

  • Providing for a loved one with special needs
  • Making sure children from a previous relationship are taken care of
  • Disinheriting a child from your will
  • Dealing with passing on a family business
  • Ensuring your will matches provisions in a prenuptial agreement

Unexpected Surprises or Unintended Consequences Can Arise 

If your will is not properly executed, the court could determine it is not valid. This can result in the court acting as though you had no will at all, so your heirs at law would inherit from you instead of the people you listed in your now invalidated will.

If you did not properly revoke a previous will, a confusing situation could arise in which multiple wills may be active at the same time.

A lawyer who has experience with wills can anticipate potential problems and guard against them.

Mistakes Can Cost Time and Money

If your will is confusing or ambiguous, it is more likely that conflict will arise. Your surviving family members may become involved in a contentious legal battle that lasts for years, drains the assets of your estate, and creates conflict in the family. These potential consequences can far outweigh the cost savings of DIY.

So, do you need a lawyer to make a will? Not necessarily. However, having a qualified will lawyer create your will may help you avoid some of the problems outlined above.

Why Hiring a Lawyer to Handle Your Will Is a Better Option

A qualified will and estate lawyer has the experience to evaluate potential problems that can arise and take steps to guard against them. They understand the language and execution requirements involved in making valid wills. They can also take steps to make the process easier for your family and witnesses, such as preparing self-proving affidavits so that they do not have to testify about witnessing your will.

Contact Patterson Weaver Law Today for Help with Your Will 

An estate planning lawyer from Patterson Weaver Law, LLC can create a will that safeguards your interests and gives you peace of mind.

Life Happens. Let Us Help. We are here for you and will answer any questions you have about the estate planning process. We provide a free, no-obligation consultation, so you have nothing to lose by getting in touch with us today. We look forward to working with you.