Excerpt from a Forbes article by Deborah L. Jacobs:
Why am I strenuously opposed to do-it-yourself wills? There are just so many things that can go wrong–from the wording of the document, to the required formalities for how it must be signed and witnessed before it can be valid. As the author of a consumer-oriented book, Estate Planning Smarts: A Practical, User-Friendly, Action-Oriented Guide, I make it a hobby of collecting DIY horror stories. And I've gathered some doozies. As Timothy E. Kalamaros, a lawyer with his own practice in South Bend, Ind., says, using a DIY will is like "pulling your own tooth with a pair of pliers instead of going to the dentist."
One sad example involved Charles Kuralt, the CBS
) News correspondent and anchor. Several weeks before he died in 1997, he penned a note to Patricia Elizabeth Shannon, his mistress for 29 years, promising to leave her 90 acres and a renovated schoolhouse near the Montana fishing retreat where they spent time together. After Kuralt's death, his family and Shannon spent six years in court fighting over whether this note was a valid amendment to the 1994 will that a lawyer had prepared, or simply a promise to revise the document–a promise that Kuralt never carried out. Without ruling on this issue, a Montana court awarded Shannon the $600,000 property but stuck Kuralt's family with all the estate taxes.