Advertisement
Retirement

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Write a Will or Do It Myself?

Editor’s note: This is one of the 20 tough financial questions posed in the “Do This or That?” cover story in the September 2011 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

Editor’s note: This is one of the 20 tough financial questions posed in the “Do This or That?” cover story in the September 2011 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Use the drop-down menu above to consider other financial conundrums and the right answers for you; share your own experiences and insights in the Discuss field at the bottom of this page.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Hire a lawyer in most situations -- it could save your family confusion and squabbles later. A lawyer’s assistance is essential if your circumstances are complex, unusual or involve significant assets. You can search for a lawyer who specializes in estate planning at www.actec.org or www.naepc.org. Costs depend on your situation and your region, but you’ll probably pay at least $300. If money is tight, check with your state’s bar association to find low-cost legal help, says lawyer Danielle Mayoras, coauthor of Trial & Heirs.

Write a do-it-yourself will if you need a short-term fix until you can hire a lawyer or if your situation is very straightforward -- say, you’re leaving everything to one person. But even small mistakes could cause problems down the road. Sites such as LegalZoom.com ($69 for a basic will) and Nolo.com ($59 for a basic will) provide forms and guidance on drafting your own will. If you go this route, make sure you meet your state’s requirements, such as having independent witnesses sign the document. You may be able to ask a lawyer to review the will for a small fee.

Advertisement

Most Popular

2020 Stock Market Holidays and Bond Market Holidays
Markets

2020 Stock Market Holidays and Bond Market Holidays

Is the market open today? Take a look at which holidays the stock markets and bond markets take off in 2020.
July 1, 2020
HSAs Get Even Better
Financial Planning

HSAs Get Even Better

Workers have more options with flexible spending accounts, too.
July 2, 2020
What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2020 vs. 2019?
tax brackets

What Are the Income Tax Brackets for 2020 vs. 2019?

The IRS unveiled the 2020 tax brackets, and it's never too early to start planning to minimize your future tax bill.
June 20, 2020

Recommended

Exit Strategies for Charitable Remainder Trusts
estate planning

Exit Strategies for Charitable Remainder Trusts

CRTs offer tax and income-planning flexibility as life changes over the years.
July 1, 2020
Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2020 Tax Year
tax law

Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2020 Tax Year

Americans are facing a long list of tax changes for the 2020 tax year...and it's never too early to start thinking about next year's return.
June 22, 2020
Top 10 Estate Planning Tips in a Time of Coronavirus
estate planning

Top 10 Estate Planning Tips in a Time of Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic has many people finally taking action to fill out advance health care directives, wills and powers of attorney. Here are some ti…
June 16, 2020
Pass Along Life Lessons With an Ethical Will
retirement

Pass Along Life Lessons With an Ethical Will

Create a legacy letter to communicate values, experiences and life lessons to your family.
June 9, 2020