"Why pay a lawyer? I know what I want, I'll just write it out myself."
Well, yeah - if you're looking to save money, it costs nothing to hand-write your will. Here in Texas, and in a number of other states, this kind of will, called a "holographic" will, can be a perfectly valid way of expressing your directions as to who gets your stuff when you die. But wait, there's more...
With a professionally prepared and properly executed will, your executor will generally spend longer sitting in court waiting to talk with the judge than he/she will actually talking with the judge. It's quick, efficient, and lets the executor get to the task of paying debts and distributing assets without a full-blown hearing.
In Texas, there's no need for witnesses to sign a holographic will; however, when it comes time to probate a holographic will, your executor will generally have to find two people who are not related to you and are familiar with your handwriting to testify that you wrote the will. If you don't use the correct words ("independently, to serve without bond", etc.), the court will have to oversee the administration of your estate unless all your beneficiaries agree to an independent administration. This takes more time, incurring more expense to your estate and less money to your beneficiaries. If you don't have what's called a "residuary clause", your estate may not go to the people you thought it would. And on and on.
Yes, this is how I feed my family and pay all of my employees, but even if it weren't, my strong advice would be, "Don't write your own will." Make an appointment with an experienced estate planning attorney and talk about your options. Your family will thank you for it.
As always, the above is legal information, not legal advice, and it's based on Texas law because I'm a Texas lawyer.
Musings, observations, the occasional whineage and some funny stuff.