I was recently presenting at an educational seminar to a group of wonderful families in Franklin, Tennessee a few months ago. Following my presentation I was asked a very common question, "Dan, can't I just write my will myself." In this day and age, there is a tendency to becoming a do-it-yourself expert. For instance, I mow my own lawn, I'd love to learn to be my own auto mechanic, and I'd really love to learn how to build a privacy fence myself for my backyard. Afterall, what could possibly go wrong????
Well, I could do something wrong while changing the oil, changing the battery, working on the brakes to my car myself, and it would likely cost thousands and thousands of dollars to fix. Afterall, I'm not an auto mechanic and I don't work on cars everday. In addition, I could also build my own privacy fence, and likely fail miserably since I don't build privacy fences or operate as a carpenter everyday. This could also cost me thousands of dollars in expenses just to fix my attempt to do-it-myself.
Just like you wouldn't be your own auto mechanic, you wouldn't be your own carpenter and home improvement expert, you shouldn't write your will yourself. Although, you certainly could if you so decided. A valid Last Will and Testament in Tennessee is required to be notarized and your signature witnessed by two independent witnesses. In addition, you must be competent when you sign your will and name where you want your property to go and who you want to be in charge when you pass away. There is certainly nothing to stop you from trying to do this yourself.
However, why take the risk of making the mistake of not writing your will correctly, risk it not being valid at your death, and your assets passing to your heirs not in accordance with your wishes. Afterall, there is the Tennessee Annotated Code that controls Last Will and Testaments as well as a long list of controlling case law that determines the validity of wills in Tennessee. Why take the risk? Perhaps you should just hire the professional that works in this area of the law everyday and understands the statutes and case law that determines the validity of wills and estates.
Just one minor mistake could cost your family severe headaches and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to correct your minor mistake after you're gone.
If you have questions regarding estate planning, wills, and trusts, please contact us at (615) 472-2482 or e-mail us at [email protected] to schedule your initial consultation. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Daniel A. Perry
Estate Planning Attorney