You can find just about anything online these days and that include wills and estate planning documents. It can be very tempting to create your will online. It’s a quick process, you can do it from the comfort of home, it remains entirely private, and it costs less than consulting an attorney for help drafting a last will and testament.
However, online wills are not the right choice for everyone and may be more expensive in the long run. Here are some of our concerns with online wills.
Considerations Before Completing An Online Will
- It’s a generic document. Online wills are generic forms that may not meet your needs. The rigid wording may make it impossible to properly manage your assets or have your last wishes fulfilled. These generic forms are not a good option if you have assets that will make your estate subject to the estate tax, if you own a small business, or if you have a complicated family tree involving re-marriages, stepchildren, properties in multiple states, or if you think someone might contest your will. In general, the more complex your estate, the greater the need to consult a wills and trusts attorney.
- It’s easy to overlook important details. Since online wills are so generic, anyone who uses one runs the risk of missing important details specific to their own situation. Meeting face-to-face with a wills and trusts attorney will ensure all of the relevant questions are asked and the details specific to your life are included in the will. Wills made with the assistance of an attorney will also include a residuary clause. This clause is a catchall for anything not expressly mentioned in the will. Not all online wills offer this clause.
- It may not remain current. Sometimes wills are made and forgotten. Without the oversight provided by an attorney it’s possible that heirs born after the will was made could be cut out of the will inadvertently. A will should be considered a living document, subject to occasional review and amendments, particularly when major life events occur. Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and property acquisition are all examples of events that could change your wishes regarding your estate. An online will service will not check in with you occasionally to ensure your will is up to date; an attorney will.
- It may not be valid. Most jurisdictions have specific requirements regarding the language contained in wills and how they are to be executed. With 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, it is critical that the will be valid in the jurisdiction in which it was executed. If the will is not valid your estate will be treated as if there is no will and property will be divided according to the intestate laws of your state rather than your will.
Generic Forms Are No Substitute For Professional Advice From A Wills and Trusts Attorney
The point of creating a will is to protect your loved ones and help manage your assets upon your death. While do-it-yourself wills may appear to offer you a way to accomplish this task on your own, this is definitely a buyer beware and a “you get what you pay for” type of situation. Online wills are generalized to meet the needs of the most people possible. That means they may not accomplish your specific objectives; they are not a suitable substitute for an estate plan.
Having your will prepared by a qualified attorney is more affordable than you might realize and comes with the peace of mind of knowing that the document will meet your exact needs and takes into account all facets of your estate and family situation. The cost of having a will professionally prepared by a wills and trusts attorney at Overstreet, Miles, Cumbie & Finkenbinder, P.A. is well worth the protection it provides and can save your beneficiaries many headaches after your death.
Contact us at 407.847.5151 to learn more about our will and estate planning services and discuss your situation or arrange a consultation online.