Drawing a will is an uncomplicated process that doesn't require professional help. Individuals have the choice of drafting their own wills or hiring an attorney. While do-it-yourself wills are easy and affordable to draw, they also present various risks. Without legal help, one can make mistakes that could invalidate the will and leave loopholes for contests. Therefore, before writing your will, note these mistakes that often arise from self-drawn wills.
Lack of proper witnesses
For a will to be valid, the testator or drawer of the will must sign it in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses must also sign the will in the testator's presence. If you sign the will in the absence of one or both witnesses, the document will be invalid. Most states allow beneficiaries to act as witnesses to the statutory declaration. However, it is advisable to avoid using beneficiaries as witnesses, especially if the will gets contested.
Missing or incorrect information
A valid will should bear the correct details of the parties involved in its signing. These details include names, addresses, and the date of the signatories. If this information is incorrect or isn't available, the will may become invalid. Note that the signatories should also use the same pen to sign the document. For example, if you use a black fountain pen and your witnesses use a blue ball-point pen, the will may be invalidated. The court may perceive that the parties didn't sign the document in the presence of each other.
Failure to follow legal provisions
For a will to be valid, one must make the statutory declaration as outlined in the Statutory Declarations Act of 1959. This declaration asserts that the document is the testator's last will and testament. The will must also clearly outline who receives what portion of the testator's estate. It should also show the name of the executor who will probate the will and distribute the estate. If the document fails to meet the legal provisions, it can be invalidated and easily contested.
Physical alterations to the document
Once a will has been signed, you cannot make any alterations to the document. Any evidence of alteration can invalidate the will. This includes multiple staple holes in the document. Thus, if you need to re-staple a will, you must reprint it and take it through the validation process all over again. Once the new will is signed, dispose of the old document—keeping the two wills can render them invalid.
Although drafting your own will is a simple process, it can lead to costly mistakes down the road. Consult an estate lawyer for legal assistance when drafting your will.