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Are DIY Wills Legal?

Seemingly unlimited internet resources have made DIY (do it yourself) all the rage – especially during the pandemic when we have all had extra time on our hands.

  • Love to wear tie dye shirts? DIY!
  • Want to update your bathroom? DIY!
  • Always wanted a fire pit in your backyard? DIY!
  • Cannot find a tablecloth to fit your table? DIY!
  • Need to make a will? DIY!

Wait…what? Is it truly possible to DIY your last will and testament? Would such a document really be legally binding? The answer is yes, but only if it is done correctly.

Every adult should have a last will and testament that outlines where they want their assets and possessions to go after they pass from this world. While it is best to have a legal professional help you draft this important document, it is possible to do it yourself. There are a couple of options:

  1. Create a (holographic will). No, you don’t have to have research how to DIY a holographic projection to do this. A holographic will simply means that you have hand-written your entire will, and complied with the formalities of the Colorado holographic will statute. Within your holographic will, you must clearly indicate how (and to whom) you want your possessions distributed.
  2. Purchase an off-the-shelf will kit in a store or online. While these kits are good about directing you through the process, it is important that you do not skip any steps or the will may be deemed invalid by the probate courts after you are gone or may not dispose of your assets in the way you intended. Some states have specific requirements for wills that might not be included in the will kit you use. Any type of glitch in the preparation of your will might affect your loved ones in the future.

While it’s true that creating a DIY will would be cheaper than having a will created by an estate lawyer, it may not always be the best idea. A Colorado estate planning attorney can help you think through situations that you may not have considered – situations that could affect how you want to write your will. For example:

  • If you have a high net worth and you want to save your family the burden and expenses of estate taxes (and possibly let them avoid the probate process), it might be better to create a trust instead of a will.
  • Your family dynamic is very complicated. You may want to leave certain people out of your will or leave all of your estate to a charity. A DIY will may be easier for those individuals to contest after you pass away, basing their claims on the fact that it is invalid.
  • The idea of a living will may not occur to you. A living will document allows you to state whether or not you want life-sustaining medical treatments in emergency situations or if you should become incapacitated. If this document is not prepared, your family may have to make these types of difficult decisions for you (life support, artificial feeding, etc.).
  • If you have minor children or adult children with disabilities, it is important to make sure they will be sufficiently cared for if you should pass away. Guardianship and conservatorship appointments are important to the welfare of your loved ones so this should be explicitly stated in your estate plan.

If you decide to move forward with a DIY will, take time every few years to review your document and make updates if necessary. Relationship changes, material possessions and your life views will change over time. You want to make sure your will accurately reflects your values and family dynamic at any given moment.

The most important takeaways are to get some type of will created right now and DIY wills may be cheaper, but they may not dispose of your assets in the ways that you intended. The legal team at The Brown Law Firm, LLC are Denver estate planning attorneys that can help you make the right decision for your unique situation. Call today to arrange an appointment: (303) 339-3750 or visit our website.