The perils of homemade wills (and wills done by lawyers who don’t draft wills regularly)


HomemadeI hear it all the time: people want to get their wills done, but are concerned about the cost. I get it; I do this for a living, and I know that it’s not cheap, especially when compared to a will kit. It sometimes can also be cheaper to get your friend the family lawyer to do a will for you as a favour.

Except it’s not really cheaper, and it’s certainly no favour.

As an illustration, look at the case of Ebenezer Arebesola. Mr. Arebesola paid his bank approximately $200 to prepare a will for him – quite a deal. Unfortunately, the bank employee did not know enough about estates law to understand that you cannot gift a share in a house that is owned as joint tenants, and so the beneficiary was not allowed to inherit what would have been a sizeable gift. As a result, the estate is going through very costly litigation – litigation that possibly could have been avoided if Mr. Arebesola had paid just a little bit more to see a lawyer who knew about estates law.

Buying generic drugs or no-name peanut butter can make sense; making your own bread or cake can be delicious. Going cheap on some of the most important decisions of your life usually isn’t the best idea.