Can I Write A Will By Myself?

Hi. This is Marc Herbert from Herbert Law Office with the Question of the Week. Last week I was asked, you know, I don’t have a whole lot of money. Can I just write a will all by myself? So the answer to that is yes. But you have to be very careful. California has a lot of intricate rules, and if you make one little mistake, it can cost your loved ones a lot of money, time and stress.

So the number one rule you want to know is that you never want to transfer a land through a well. If you do that, the will is going to end up being probated and your family and loved ones are going to end up paying a bunch of money in terms of filing fees to the court, publishing fees to the newspaper, maybe a bond fee.

Definitely attorney fees. And the court process usually takes about two years, sometimes three years here in L.A. County. So it’s a very stressful situation. Even if you have a will, even if your directions are very clear, the court process itself is very stressful. And then once your loved ones get out of court, then the taxman comes knocking and then that’s a whole different set of problems.

So even if you write a will by yourself, do yourself and your loved ones a favor, never transfer land through a well. Now you can draft what’s called a holographic will if the material provisions are in your handwriting and you sign it. So the material provisions are the name of your executor, the name of your heirs, the specific property that you’re trying to give.

So that all needs to be in your handwriting and you need to sign it. Interestingly, California does not require you to date that well or to have that well witnessed. Now, I strongly recommend you do both if you choose to do a holographic will, because without a date, without witnesses, anyone who’s unhappy about that will could file a will contest claiming that you were acting under duress, that you were unduly influenced, that you lacked capacity to sign the document.

So you have to be careful, even if you’re going to do it yourself with the well. And again, please never transfer a land by a will. That’s the number one asset that ends up in probate court. And your loved ones are going to lose out on tens of thousands of dollars of inheritance that’s rightfully belongs to them. The third thing that you could do is you could use one of these Internet websites or a discount estate plan or a document preparation service for that will.

The problem there, though, is those forms are pretty generic and they’re often outdated and they won’t capture tax breaks that you could use or tax pitfalls that you want to avoid. So any mistakes, again, can end up with probate court and end up with taxes. Now, especially with the passage of Proposition 19 a couple of years ago. You have to be very careful transferring land to non spouse heirs because they could end up paying you no triple property taxes.

If land is transferred the wrong way. So a will is still an important document for your estate plan. Well, it’s useful for making small gifts, for naming guardians, for providing directions on your funeral or celebration of life, for providing directions for burial or cremation, maybe. But a standalone will creates a big problem when you’re trying to transfer land or gifts.

Over $30,000. Now, the best solution to that problem is to use a will together with the trust. That way, your family can avoid probate court can usually avoid taxes, and it has to be a trust that’s that’s created after looking at your entire financial situation, something that’s unique to you, something that’s customized and comprehensive so that your specific needs are handled in a manner that that works best for you in terms of controlling the amounts of inheritance.

The age is when your heirs inherit sometimes. So here at Herbert law office, we offer a free consultation to sit down, to answer all your questions, to discuss your current financial situation and talk about your options so that you can create a customized and comprehensive estate plan that works best for you when you’re ready for a free consultation, just give us a call at 6612739007.

We’ll talk to you soon.