Harville-Stein Law Offices, LLC


FOLEY, AL 36535
Phone: 251.979.6641




Doing a Will  "Yourself"

By Dean D. Stein, CMA

Many individuals have been tempted to do a Will, or Last Will and Testament, "themselves" using some “standardized” form, now often obtained from the internet. Maybe the only thing worse than dying without a Will is dying with a badly constructed Will. Also, these forms may not tell you important information that you need to know, such as, your needing at least two witnesses, who must be at least 19 years of age, and that you must sign the Will in their presence. Notarization is not necessarily required, but we would never recommend not using a Notary Public in addition to the witnesses. Proper Notarization can make the Will "Self Proving" easing the admission into Probate Court. Did you know your Will is likely invalid, if it is Notarized, but you are lacking the witnesses? 

In addition, there are important considerations a form may not fully convey to you. These could include, but are certainly not limited to: Should you waive the statutory requirement of bond? Should you require an inventory? What about language holding the personal representative harmless? What property passes by Will, and what property is going to be dictated by other documents, regardless of what the Will says about that property? How should you best provide for a minor child or children? An adult incapacitated child? Second marriage? Should the guardian of a child also been in charge of managing and spending that child's money too?

Doing a Will yourself can be a trap for the unwary and consulting an experienced attorney is well worth the relatively small cost, if you wish your Will to be done properly. This is not to say that you cannot create your own Will, only that important issues need to be considered and not overlooked, as they can cause unforeseen consequences for your loved ones and beneficiaries. An experienced attorney knows how to structure the thought process of creating a Will, to address these important issues. 

This article is generally based on Alabama law, the law of your state can vary widely. This is not intended to constitute, nor should be taken by you as legal advice and is not intended and does not create an attorney/client relationship.

Dean Stein, CMA, is an attorney who has a Masters degree in business and is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA).


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