I get so tired of lawyers advising people not to prepare their own Will on the basis of a flimsy analogy. Every time I see the arguments against writing your own Will, I see a lawyer saying something like “preparing your own Will is like performing your own brain surgery.” The Forbes article from last week had a lawyer comparing writing your own Will to “”pulling your own tooth with a pair of pliers instead of going to the dentist.” Just yesterday I was reading a blog written by a lawyer saying that the reason lawyers charge so much for preparing a Will is the same reason that laser eye surgery is so expensive for just a 15 minute procedure. (for some reason, they love the medical analogies)
Let’s get real. Writing your own Will is you, expressing how you would like your possessions to be distributed after you die. It may also include naming the person that you wish to look after your children if both you and the other parent were to both die at the same time. If you sign this document in the presence of two witnesses who then both sign, you have created a legal Last Will and Testament. It is not brain surgery, it is not laser eye correction surgery, it is simply an expression of your wishes for your estate.
Things can of course get complicated if you have more difficult things to take care of. If you need to set up a trust for a child with special needs, if you have many business interests, or property held in different countries, maybe if you have young children from multiple marriages – in these cases you may need legal advice, and that advice is worth paying for. But many people do not require legal advice to prepare their own Will, because writing a Will is not necessarily a difficult task.
Bear in mind that most interactive online services are prepared by lawyers who are very experienced in estate planning. Every one of the templates generated by our services in Canada, the US and the UK were created by estate planning lawyers, and we even have a service that lets you have your Will reviewed by a lawyer once it is completed. Some lawyers understand that just as many people want to file their own taxes instead of using a accountant, many people want to prepare their own Will without using a lawyer.
Lawyers make it sound like if you prepare your own Will, it will be challenged by your family so you should have a lawyer prepare it for you. It’s strange though because every time I read a new story about a Will being challenged, the Will was prepared by a lawyer.
So enough with the scaremongering analogies. Preparing your own Will isn’t like performing your own brain surgery, walking on the moon or splitting the atom. It’s simply writing down what you want to happen to your things after you’ve died, in a clear and unambiguous way. So don’t be afraid of it.