Do it yourself (“DIY”) Wills are inexpensive and convenient and there are lots of options on the internet for these services. Sounds great but they are also ripe with pitfalls.
We recently had a client contact us in order to commence a probate proceeding shortly after her father passed away. “Probate” is the process of administering a decedent’s estate and is required whether a person has a will or not. The client’s father purchase a DIY Will on-line and was under the impression he had properly followed the instructions. However, what he ended up with was not a valid will.
The daughter provided us a document labeled a “worksheet” which was typed out by the Decedent and identified assets and designated who was to receive certain items. The document even had a notarization of the Decedent’s signature attached. However, no will executed in this State is valid unless it is in writing and signed by the testator, or by an attending person at the testator’s express direction, and attested by at least two competent witnesses who subscribe their names to the will in the presence of the testator. NRS 133.040. The Property Worksheet was not attested to by any witnesses and did not meet the statutory requirements for a valid will.
Further, the document did not meet the prerequisites for a valid holographic will which requires the signature and material provisions be written by the hand of the testator, whether or not it is witnessed or notarized. NRS 133.090. As a result, the Decedent was treated as having died “intestate” and the daughter is entitled to all of the Estate as the closest heir.
The Decedent had intended to bequeath numerous items to various members of his family but, unfortunately, the DIY Will was a failure. And when there are mistakes, it is possible that the survivors of the deceased will end up in court, spending thousands of dollars to contest a will. Even uncontested wills can remain in expensive probate limbo when a DIY document contains mistakes.
AARP recognizes that while you may be able to save money by creation of a DIY Will, “there are some situations, however, when you may want to hire a lawyer. For example, it’s best to get an attorney involved if: you have a large estate and want some estate planning guidance; you want to disinherit a spouse; or, you are concerned that someone may contest your will or try to claim that you weren’t of sound mind when you signed it.”
For more than 30 years, Attorney Lee A. Drizin has practiced in the areas of estate planning, probate, trusts, guardianship and real estate matters representing clients throughout the state of Nevada.
Drizin Law is providing this information for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. This information is based on general principles of Nevada law at the time it was created and you should be aware laws frequently change. Moreover, the laws affecting you may differ depending on the circumstances. You should consult with a qualified attorney in your own state or jurisdiction concerning your particular situation. Review of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.