Magazine article Anglican Journal

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Wills

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Wills

Article excerpt

SOME PEOPLE prefer to bypass the cost and time of the law office altogether and complete their wills on their own with fill-in-the-blanks kits you can purchase at business supply stores and online for less than $30 and complete in half an hour.

"These are really just one step up from intestacy," says Pamela Earle, a lawyer with McInnes Cooper in St. John's, Nfld. "And they're as good as intestacy if they're not properly done." (Bear in mind that DYI options have been seriously cutting into lawyers' fees for will-making.) Common problems with DYI wills are lack of proper witnessing, imprecise language, improper placement of paragraphs and invalid additions.

"But if carefully completed and witnessed, they are valid and will stand up in court," says James Naumovich, a Toronto lawyer specializing in wills and estates. And they can be reasonable stop-gap measures if you need to make a will quickly and lack the time to seek legal advice.

Franklin Phillips, a Toronto-based filmmaker, for example, made a simple will using a kit just before his sudden departure for Africa to make a documentary film that would take him into some dangerous conflict zones. It was the only will he ever made, and after his death some 20 years later, his lawyer said the stationary-store testament was still valid, although it did not reflect the reality of his current assets.

The main drawback of a self-executed will, says Susannah Roth, a lawyer with O'Sullivan Estate Lawyers in Toronto, is that you lose the benefit of professional advice that could alert you to tax savings, point out potential pitfalls for litigation and bring errors to your attention. …

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