Why Go to an Attorney for a Will When I Can Just Do It Myself?


Our society loves “do it yourself (DIY)” projects. We watch DIY shows on cable TV and find ourselves tiling bathrooms and refinishing floors in our spare time. Why not do the same with our Wills?

The questions you need to ask yourself:

• Did I complete my DIY Will? The DIY Wills I reviewed last week were not even signed!

• Are you confident that your DIY Will has been validly executed in compliance with the requirements of Iowa law? More than once I have probated an estate intestate (which means there was no will) because the Will, which the deceased did themselves, was not validly signed and witnessed under Iowa law.

• Do you know which of your assets are going to pass under the terms of your Will? Just because your Will says who is going to receive your assets does not mean that is what will happen. Many assets pass outside the Will.

• Do you have minor children? If so, you need to provide for what will happen to any assets they inherit from you. If you don’t, a conservatorship will be set up and supervised by the court. Once your minor children become age 18, the assets in the conservatorship will be distributed to them to spend as they wish.

• What about a living will, durable power of attorney for health care decisions and durable power of attorney for financial decisions? In addition to the Will, did you
DIY these documents? Same questions apply – are they validly executed under Iowa law?

• Are you going to avoid probate? Having a Will indicates that you are going through the probate process. Do you know what that is and is that what you want?

Yes, you can prepare your Will yourself, but the attorney you hire is not just preparing documents that you can prepare yourself. The attorney is giving you legal advice regarding the issues raised above. When you hire an attorney, you will know that your documents are prepared in accordance with Iowa law, that you have avoided probate if that is one of your goals, that your assets will be distributed to those you want to get them, and that you have provided for your children, whether minor or not.

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