With the proliferation of computer software and websites promising to save you money by assisting you in preparing legal documents, naturally people wonder whether they need an attorney to prepare their last will and testament. Since you’re reading my legal blog, you probably already know my position on this matter. In case you don’t, let me explain why using such “do it yourself” software or websites may prove more costly in the long run and even result in your will being denied probate.
The preparation of your last will and testament is only the first step in assuring your will will be admitted to probate by the New York Surrogate’s Court upon your demise. Your will must contain the necessary provisions to assure the appointment of your executor, and the disposition of your estate. Assuming the contents of your “home-made” will pass muster, it is crucial that your will be signed before competent witnesses with the proper formalities required under New York State law. If this is done under the supervision of an attorney, there is a presumption that the legal formalities have been complied with. This is not the case when an attorney is not involved. Any failure in following these requirements can result in the will being denied probate and thus frustrating your wishes.
Not retaining an attorney to prepare and supervise the execution of one of the most important documents you will sign during your lifetime is definitely not something you should consider in order to save a small sum of money. Doing so could cost your heirs or beneficiaries time and money in the long run and more importantly, could prevent your last wishes from being carried out.