Can I Do My Own Will?
Most likely, yes. The wills provided on this site are generally sufficient for people who are under age 65 and own property worth less than the threshold limit for federal estate taxes. The personal estate tax exemption allows a set dollar amount of property ($5 million for deaths in 2011 and 2012) to be transferred free of tax.
Your estate consists of the net worth of all the property you own at the time of your death. Net worth is the market value of the property, less any amounts owed on it. When adding up your assets to determine estate value, be sure to include the following (less any amounts owed on them):
- Residence and other real estate
- Savings (bank accounts, CDs, money markets)
- Investments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds)
- 401(k), IRA, pension and other retirement accounts
- Life insurance policies and annuities
- Ownership interest in a business
- Motor vehicles (cars, boats, planes)
- Other personal property
If you have total assets worth more than $5 million, estate planning beyond the basic Will on this site will benefit your heirs and can reap huge rewards when the tax bill arrives. If you are close to, or above that threshold limit, you should consult an attorney or estate planning professional. Our net worth calculator can help you determine the value of your estate.
The simplest and most common situations related to asset distribution are summarized below. If one of these descriptions applies to your situation, and your estate is below the threshold limit described above, you may be a good candidate for doing your own Will.
- Most married couples with children divide assets between the surviving spouse and children. After a spouse’s death, the surviving mate will typically divide assets among their children in their Will.
- Single parents typically divide assets among their children, and name guardians for minor children.
- People without children often leave their estates to their spouse, significant other, relatives or friends.
The simple Will on this site is intended to cover most general situations. If your situation is more complex, the Will provided on this site may not be sufficient to meet your needs. For example, if want to disinherit relatives, set up complicated trust provisions, have a child with a disability, or anticipate family conflict, you should seek legal counsel and may be better served by another estate planning tool.
Also, please note that this site is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Specific questions regarding your estate plan should be directed to a qualified attorney or estate planning professional.