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Is it possible to write your own will?

In today's economy, many Tennessee residents look for ways to reduce expenses and save their hard-earned money. That means looking for areas in which they can do things for themselves rather than calling in a professional each and every time their car needs minor service or their sink springs a leak. When it comes to estate planning, many people take a similar approach, and they wonder if tackling their own will or other documents could save money while reaching the exact same end result.

In short, it may be able to do so. For those who have a very simple financial scenario and have very narrowly defined estate planning goals, it is possible to draft a will on one's own. The risk, however, is that mistakes will be made that could cost in the long run. Unfortunately, those expenses can be a burden on the loved ones left behind.   

For example, if a will is unclear, or is not properly drafted, family members can act to contest that will. This means taking the matter to court, which can be stressful and expensive for all involved. Because the law is so complex, it takes a certain skill set to successfully navigate the preparation of legal documents. When a will does not meet the proper standards, it is more easily challenged in court.

Another potential problem lies in failing to make the best available estate planning choices. Some financial circumstances are better suited for a trust than a will; others require a carefully worded set of clauses in order to be effective. For example, if an individual wishes to exclude a child from inheriting, the best way to do so is to include very specific language within a will that identifies and disinherits that individual. Failing to do so can leave the will vulnerable to attack in a court of law.

So, while it is certainly possible for Tennessee residents to create a DIY will, the wisdom of such a choice is questionable. Those who are concerned about saving money should look into the actual cost of hiring an estate planning attorney to draft a will and any other necessary documents. Often, those costs are far less than anticipated.

Source: americanclarion.com, "Can I Write My Own Estate Plan?", David John Marotta and Megan Russell, Nov. 10, 2015

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