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Dave Says: Writing Your Own Will

Dave Says

Dear Dave,

When it comes to making a will, would it suffice to sit down and write it all out on a piece of paper, then have it notarized?

Joyce

Dear Joyce,

I would never advise someone to write their own will, unless, of course, they’re an attorney in that state. Laws can vary from state to state, and some states may not look upon a document like that as being official under law. Some even require witnesses, and a notary might not be good enough.

If you’re trying to save money by doing it this way, I would strongly urge you to look at involving a lawyer as an investment. In most cases, having a reputable lawyer draw up a legally correct, state-specific will doesn’t cost a lot of money. At the very least, go online to USLegalForms.com. They have all kinds of state-specific legal forms, including wills.

Your last will and testament is one of the most important legal documents you’ll ever be part of. Please don’t try to do this yourself, Joyce. I’ve run into so many families who, in the midst of grieving the loss of a loved one, were handed a handwritten piece of paper that wouldn’t hold up in court. That kind of thing just adds more stress to an already heartbreaking situation.

—Dave

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