Why You Shouldn’t Prepare Your Own Last Will and Testament

While the laws of both Tennessee and Georgia allow residents to make their own wills, without the advice or direction of an attorney, there are downsides to doing that in either state.  A will is a legal document with many wide-ranging implications for your estate and your heirs, so it is important that this document is handled in a way that clearly specifies your wishes. Having an experienced estate planning lawyer prepare your will provides many benefits, including these.

It ensures that your will is prepared in accordance with state law.

Wills must meet several legal requirements to be valid. An experienced estate planning lawyer who practices in your state can put your wishes in writing, identify your property and clearly state how you want your property to be disposed of at your death. Some people may be tempted to download an online form to make their last will and testament, but this type of document may not be specific to the laws of your state. Further, if you make a handwritten will, there are additional requirements that you must meet for it to be considered valid under Tennessee law, and Georgia does not allow handwritten wills at all.

An attorney can also ensure that witness requirements are fulfilled, including that there are two witnesses who watch you sign your last will and testament in your presence and the presence of each other. These witnesses should not stand to inherit anything in your will or be an heir at law. You must also meet certain requirements to properly execute a will.

If these requirements are not met, the will can be declared invalid. An experienced estate planning lawyer can ensure that these requirements are met. Additionally, he or she can have parties sign a self-proving affidavit that further validates the document.

It provides a plan for contingencies.

While you may know generally how you want to divide your property, an estate planning lawyer can ask you questions about what you want to do with your property under different scenarios. The lawyer can help you name a guardian for your children in the event you and the child’s other parent pass away while your children are minors. An estate planning attorney can also draft your will in a way that provides for different arrangements if a beneficiary or executor passes away before you do.

It allows you to make legally valid changes.

You may need to update your will after important life changes, such as marriage, divorce or the birth of a child. Any changes to your will must be completed in a specific manner to be valid. An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you execute these changes so that your will is up to date and reflects your current circumstances.

The Epstein Law Firm in Chattanooga helps clients in Tennessee and Georgia draft legally sound wills. Call us at 423-265-5100 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.


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