Why Your DIY Will May Be a Fixer-Upper

Tackling a DIY project at home can be a way to save money and stretch your fix-it muscles. But a DIY will, using a templated form you find online or buy at the local office supply store, can lead to problems.

Creating your own will (or last will & testament) without an attorney’s advice may become a real fixer-upper when the time comes that you or a family member pass away.

Problems with a DIY Will

Today, we can find virtually anything we need online. That’s why it’s no surprise many people turn to online forms to create their own will. But just as you wouldn’t take on the rewiring of your home without being an experienced and licensed electrician, you shouldn’t create your own will.

There are several inherent problems with these one-size-fits-all wills that we want you to know about:

  • States, including Arizona, have stringent requirements for legal documents. When you sign a DIY will, you agree to comply with the document “to a T,” which could cause unforeseen (and undesirable) consequences. For example, your power of attorney (that is, who you authorized to represent or act on your behalf) might be invalidated.
  • Online forms are overly simplistic. These ready-to-go templates are designed to be easy to fill out. What’s not to like, right? The downside is that there aren’t many options to choose from. This locks you into a format that may not be appropriate for your situation.
  • You may unintentionally disinherit someone. If you’re like most clients we meet with, you have a good idea about what personal possessions you want to go where. You could have even told specific family members what they will receive — and expectations are already set. But when that templated will is made public and reviewed, it could lead to disappointment or even major arguments and litigation among family members.
  • An individual has different needs than someone with a large family. A “will in a box” may sound like a convenient option, but the form creator made some assumptions on what “most people” would need to designate in a will. This guesswork is often a disconnect with what will provisions should actually be spelled out.

We Can Review and Fix Your DIY Will Problems

If you currently have a DIY will and wonder if it meets =your needs, we can review it for you. And if you don’t have a will, of course, we can help you get one in place.

The first step is a complimentary meeting with us, by phone or in-person here at our East Mesa office. We’ll talk one-on-one about your needs and personal situation. (That’s something an online form can’t do.) We’ll recommend some action steps to consider, and then you can decide what you’d like to do next.

Let us know how we can help by emailing us or calling (480) 534-7355.

Attorney Bob Monroe with Fleming & Monroe explains the problems that come with a DIY will.