Do my parents need to get a will done by a lawyer?

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Do my parents need to get a will done by a lawyer?

My parents own a home and still pay a mortgage on it. They would like to have a will done as to what they wish done once they pass. How do they go about this?

Asked on July 3, 2017 under Estate Planning, Hawaii

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Legally, no--anyone may legally draft their own will. There are three things to consider, however:
1) The will must be properly and legally signed (executed) and witnessed; if there is any defect in how this done, the will is not valid. A lawyer will know how to make sure this gets done properly.
2) There are certain legal concepts and terms with which a layperson is likely not familiar. Unless your parents understand the concepts of the "residue" of their estate, a "remainder" interest, or how to create a "testamentary trust" (which is often very useful), a lawyer's help would be beneficial.
3) Lawyers are objective: they can see what you parents are trying to do and evaluate it dispassionately, without any emotional involvement; this lets them draft a will free from emotional bias.
So your parents *can* legally draft, etc. the will themselves, but hiring an attorney is to their advantage.


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