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  • Northern Virginia Trusts & Estates

3 Reasons DIY Wills Don’t Really Save You Time and Money

These days, nearly everything can be done electronically.

You can purchase a home, authorize medical decisions, transfer money, and make investments all virtually – and often without the need for a conversation with an actual person.

You can also draw up a will.

But just because you can do these things and with relative ease doesn’t mean you should.

This brings us back to the old adage that says Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Estate planning attorney are experts in their field and have spent years studying the many details of state-specific will requirements, what is needed to execute a will, and what will invalidate one.

Will and estate attorney are also experts in uncovering your estate planning needs. Even if you think you don’t have many assets to account for, most people have more than they realize.

It may be tempting to opt for a do-it-yourself will with one of the many online will services out there.

But going this route might lead to even more time and money spent to make it ‘right’ in the long run.

Here are 3 reasons why you’re not really saving time and money with a DIY will service.

#1: You’ll Spend More Time Than You Think To Finalize Your DIY Will

One notable financial advisor and expert in the public eye touts a DIY will service that you can use to draw up a complete will ‘in 20 minutes.’ That in itself might save you time and work just fine for simple wills.

But what that service and others don’t account for is the time and money you’ll spend finalizing your will document.

In the state of Virginia, you need to have your will witnessed by two ‘competent persons’ who must sign the will in front of the testator (you). And while VA law doesn’t require the will to be notarized, it’s a highly recommended practice to ensure validity.

In VA, it’s also recommended that you add what’s called a ‘self-proving affidavit’ to your will, which can help ease the probate process when it’s time. This is a signed sworn statement that validates the will and makes it easier for your named executor to “prove” the validity of your will.

Most DIY will services won’t account for these necessary add-ons and, if they do, it will likely be at an extra cost to you.

#2: Online Will Packages Don’t Cover Estate Complexities

A DIY will only makes sense in the simplest situations. But if you have a spouse to consider, children to ensure care for, a blended family situation, or assets in different accounts or at multiple institutions, you may want to opt for an estate attorney.

The cost of preparing an online will starts creeping up when you add in complexities, such as guardianship, advance medical directives, a trust, powers of attorney, and living will documents.

Most DIY will packages only include fill-in-the-blank document templates to prepare a simple will. Any supplementary documents come at an extra cost.

We consider a standard Virginia estate plan complete when there are 3 primary executed documents. These include:

  1. Will

  2. Power of Attorney

  3. Advance Medical Directive

With our standard (and affordable!) estate planning package, you get the consultation services of an expert estate lawyer and these three basic documents executed and validated.

We also offer add-on services for guardianship and trust wills, revocable living trusts, and special needs trusts at an affordable cost.

Small Errors Can Cost You (and Your Loved Ones) Big Time

Online DIY wills are often fill-in-the-blank templates that seem easy to complete.

But there are a few things to watch out for to ensure that seemingly minimal errors – however small – don’t end up invalidating your will.

When you’re the one preparing the will, it can be easy to make these mistakes:

  1. Using incorrect or out-of-date language

  2. Using generic language when it should be state-specific

  3. Not executing the will properly

  4. Failing to use language that fully disposes of your estate in your will

  5. Not naming an executor or alternative executor

  6. Having your will witnessed by someone who is a family member or a beneficiary of your will

Although little, these mistakes can increase the likelihood that your will is contested in probate court. And this will likely add to the monetary (and emotional) cost your loved ones may feel after your passing.

DIY wills are tempting, we admit. But the cost of fully executing a DIY will is often more expensive in the long run.

Our Virginia estate planning packages and services are surprisingly comparable to most online DIY will services. You’ll also have an estate planning expert at your disposal to ensure your will is done right the first time.

We Can Help You Prepare and Execute Your Will Affordably

We know it’s tempting to go with an online will service, but the potential problems and add-ons can often add time and money. At the end of the day, the time and money you spend making a DIY will ‘right’ will likely have surpassed the cost of consulting with an expert estate attorney.

Browse our affordable will packages and call us at 703.938.3510 or contact us for a consultation to get started on your estate plan. We’ll make the process a smooth one!

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