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Can writing my own will cause legal problems?

For various reasons, some people write their own wills without input or service from legal professionals. They may want to save money by not hiring a lawyer, or they may believe they have the expertise to handle it. However, writing your own will might actually cause trouble for your heirs.

These problems createdcan prolong the probate process unnecessarily, and even lead to the court concluding that your will is invalid. As a result, your wishes for your estate may not come to fruition.

Will validation

In order for a will to be considered by valid by the New York Surrogate’s court, a judge must be able to tell that your will expresses your true intent and wishes for how your estate is to be distributed.

This means that your will must conform to the – sometimes overly technical –  requirements of New York state.

If you do not know about these requirements, you might draft a will without executing it properly, including terms which are void, and/or losing legal presumptions about the validity of the will that would otherwise be available if an attorney was  involved

Ambiguous wills

Another reason people have attorneys help with their wills is to make sure their wills contain clear and legally enforceable language.

If you write a will yourself, you might not know what terms to use to convey your wishes.

Some people draft wills that are too vague and/or that do not slearly state to who, and how, your assets are to be distributed. The result is that your heirs may fight over a sentence, a single word, or even how punctuation can affect the  distribution of your assets.Such ambiguity can rack up years of litigation, and significant legal costs.

Estate disharmony

Courts may also have a problem if your will is inconsistent with other estate documents. For example, where a husband and wife sign a prenuptial agreement, and the husband then writes his own will and trust, but ambiguity and inconsistencies exist between the documents, complications – and expensive litigation – can arise.

Bottom line, let the experts do their jobs. If you need a comprehensive estate plan, contact Bashian P.C. to discuss how we can help you prepare for the future.

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