I’ve mentioned it a lot before: wills are complicated, and hard to do on your own. I feel rather vindicated after reading this article in Consumer Reports, where they analyzed several online will-production tools and established that, unsurprisingly, unless your needs are very simple, you are better off hiring a lawyer.

The author made a couple of points worth reiterating:

  1. The forms are somewhat specific to the jurisdiction in which they were drafted. Rules change state to state and province to province, so you might not be doing something that would be useful where you are.
  2. They allow you to be a little too flexible, and add in your own words. This can lead you to very easily contradict both other parts of the will, and the law of your jurisdiction.

A will is a fairly complex document that will direct where all of your assets go when you no longer have any other control. Most of my clients come to see me thinking that they have a simple estate, and leave realizing that it is far more complicated than they thought. Do-it-yourself may be appropriate for painting your bathroom; it should not be how you craft your estate plan.