Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will?

Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will?

If you are over 18 and of sound mind, you should be entitled to make a will without the help of a lawyer. Different states have different laws and it is important that you find out the specifics for your state and follow them if you are trying to make a will on your own. Typically, a will needs to fulfill the following requirements:

– It must be signed by at least two witnesses who have watched the owner (a person who has written their own will) sign the will. The witnesses do not need to read the will. In most states, the witnesses must be people who are not named to inherit anything in the will. Some states allow “holographic” wills that do not require any witnesses.

– It must be dated and signed by the owner of the will.

A will does not have to be notarized to be legal but in many states, when a will is notarized, it can help to avoid time consuming, and sometimes complicated, court proceedings after the owner of the will has died.

Basic Will

Many people do not need a lawyer’s help to write a basic will. People whose financial situations and assets are pretty straight forward often just need to figure out things such as who or what to leave a home, investments, and personal items to, and if the owner has minor children, it should name a guardian to take care of them if the owner dies before they are 18 or older.

Some states allow for wills to be recorded or filed but there is no requirement that says that these things need to be done.

Most basic wills do not involve complicated legal rules. Many people find that they can write a will to meet their needs with only the help of a good book or software program.

If you are writing your own will, it is important to keep in mind that if you have questions about your particular situation that your resources do not provide the answers for, you may need to ask a good lawyer that is licensed to practice law in the state you live in for definitive answers to your questions.

Can My Will Be Challenged After I Die?

Aside from in dramatic movies and television shows, few wills are actually challenged in court. When they are, they are often challenged by a spouse or other close relative that feels they were cheated out of a share of the deceased person’s money and/or other assets.

If someone is trying to invalidate an entire will after the owner has died, they must go to court to prove that the owner was not of sound mind when they wrote it, that the owner was unduly coerced when they wrote it, and/or that one or more of the signatures was forged. 

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Benefits of Working with a Lawyer to Make a Will

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they realize that they should probably have a last will and testament prepared. Even if you’re young or in perfect health, it’s always a good idea to have a will. If you’ve never written one before one of the questions you might be asking is: Do I need a lawyer to make a will?   

No, you do not need a lawyer to create a will. However, you might just want to work with one. There are a number of benefits to working with a lawyer when you’re preparing a will.  

Law Compliance

A lawyer will make sure that your last wishes adhere to any and all applicable laws. You could be surprised by what kinds of laws can come up when people are inheriting money, and applicable laws could be local, state and/or federal so there could potentially be many of them. Laws also change frequently, so it’s a good idea to work with someone who has the most up-to-date knowledge possible.

Tax Advice

Lawyers that specialize in will preparation will be able to advise you on any tax ramifications your gifts may have on others. They will know what amounts will have the least financial impact on someone’s annual taxes.

Peace of Mind

There’s a certain amount of ease that comes from knowing a legal expert was involved in preparing your will. Things can become frenetic after a loved one’s passing, and knowing that a lawyer helped prepare your will may help assuage any concerns of potential confusion or misinterpretation. The last thing you want is to have your loved ones arguing over something that’s unclear in your will.  

Reduce Stress

Preparing a will can be stressful. In addition to feeling more comfortable having assistance with preparation, an experienced lawyer can also provide some general advice that can make the process much less stressful.

Special Circumstances

You might also consider hiring a lawyer if you have any special, non-traditional circumstances. For example, if you are in a same-sex marriage or domestic partnership you may want to do everything you can to ensure your loved one will receive your gift as you intended. If you have financial accounts in any foreign countries or have an unusually large amount of assets you may want to seek legal counsel.  

While you don’t need a lawyer, if you’re confused about the process or want to talk to a professional and ask some questions, it is always advised to seek legal assistance. Give American Legal Care a call to schedule an appointment.