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Should I use a DIY will kit?

A do-it-yourself (DIY) legal will kit that is correctly filled out can save you about $500 and take care of your assets after you die – but are these will kits a good idea?

In order for a form or document, like a will, to be truly effective and to stand up in court if challenged, it must be filled out and executed (signed) correctly. Most people do not know or understand the legalese on the forms and make guesses, which can invalidate the document; and, in our experience, most people mishandle the execution or signing page(s).

Two valid witnesses are required to properly execute a will, and the testator/testatrix (the man/woman creating the will) and the witnesses must sign the will in the presence of each other. The witnesses should not be the beneficiaries or the spouse of a testator/testatrix, or the gifts named for that person in the will become invalidated. Depending on how the will is structured, initials may be required on every page.

You may have heard of cases where a handwritten will, and in one instance, a will written on a dirty tractor fender, held up in court. Those are called holograph wills and they are only legal and binding under very strict and extreme circumstances. For instance, the entire will must be in your own handwriting, which is very difficult to prove.

Things get even more complicated if your family is blended, or if you are separated from your spouse and are in a common law relationship. Without updating your will – and without making sure everything is correctly stated – assets that you wished to pass to you current spouse may be legally passed to your ex-spouse. A will that does not stand up in court could also invalidate the assets you wished to pass to your children.

The answer to “should I use a legal will kit” is the same as “should I perform my own dental work.” Of course you can – but it’s a very bad idea and fixing the mistakes retroactively is painful, costly and time consuming.

A poorly completed DIY will hurts the very people you sought to protect.  Wills are very serious, complicated documents that require expert advice.  Leave your loved one’s solutions, not problems.  We offer free consultations with our experienced lawyers and we only deal in wills and estate law.  For more information visit www.estateconnection.com or call us today at 780 458 8228 to get started on your will.

St. Albert Gazette: The St. Albert Gazette has been the source for news and community information in St. Albert and area since 1961. Today the twice-weekly full-colour tabloid delivers award-winning journalism in print, online and on mobile.