Garton & Harris

Are do-it-yourself wills worth the risk?

More than half of those living in British Columbia do not have an estate plan. It may be easy to list the reasons why, including the fear of facing their mortality, misconceptions about the purpose of an estate plan and, of course, the cost. Therefore, it might seem that those who choose do-it-yourself kits to create their wills have an advantage over those who die without an estate plan in place. However, some financial advisors strongly disagree.

A DIY will kit offers a will template for a nominal fee, and some websites even offer free downloads. The problem with a one-size-fits-all will is that every situation is unique. No template can cover every contingency or provide protections for special concerns that every family has. Additionally, DIY kits provide little to no assistance for those who may have questions. Even worse, many who use such kits may not even know what questions they should be asking.

Without knowledge of probate laws, someone using a will kit may not realise he or she has made a small but significant mistake. The ones who will deal with that mistake are those left behind after the will maker dies. In some cases, families are left with no recourse when a DIY will contains an error that results in a very different outcome from what the deceased would have wanted.

Wills can address far more than who inherits the assets in an estate. Those in British Columbia who have children, blended families, special needs or unique assets, among other things, would be wise to seek professional assistance when they decide to create their estate plans. Putting off estate planning is risky, but DIY wills may carry an even greater risk.

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