Should I Make My Will Online?

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preparing your will online

There are several websites that offer to make you a will quickly and at a low cost. Making a will online can be tempting, but before making the decision to use these services rather than hire a lawyer, there are a few things to consider.

1. Lack of Guidance

When you complete an online will, you don’t have an attorney there with you every step of the way. The benefit of hiring an experienced lawyer is that they have a lot of practice with asking the right questions and making sure nothing gets left out. There are conversations and a continuing relationship with an attorney that you just won’t get with an online will drafting company. 

2. One Size Does Not Fit All

These websites tend to have vague language and a fill-in-the-blank approach. For someone with a simple personal and financial situation, this may be fine. However, most of us do not have simple lives, and therefore we won’t have simple documents. Hiring an attorney ensures that you will be able to personalize your estate planning documents to suit your exact situation. Additionally, your estate planning lawyer will be familiar with your history, in case a time comes when you need to make amendments. A generic form can never reflect your specific goals for your loved ones, nor can they incorporate your beliefs and values.

3. You May Not Know What You Need

If you’re not an estate planning attorney yourself, it’s hard to determine exactly what documents you need, and exactly what language needs to go into those documents. In the media, it seems like the only document ever mentioned is a will, but that is not the only estate planning document there is. An attorney can advise you on what documents you actually need and create a well-rounded estate plan, rather than just one document that may or may not cover your needs.

4. There Are Consequences for Poor Planning

Mistakes that occur during estate planning can lead to major consequences for you and your loved ones. There are several mistakes that are very common, and if you plan on creating your will or trust without guidance from an experienced attorney, it is likely you’ll make at least one. For example, it is not uncommon to find standard form trust documents that do not contain any provisions for the removal or replacement of a Trustee when an acting Trustee dies or becomes disabled. You may prefer to grant to your adult children or others you trust, the power to remove a Trustee, or to fill a Trustee vacancy. Using a form that lacks this specific provision, your children may be forced to bring a court action to replace a non-performing or unsatisfactory Trustee.

5. Online Documents May Not Meet Your State’s Requirements

Another problem with generic forms is that they may lack specific instructions related to document signing procedures, or may provide instructions that do not meet your state’s requirements. For example, a standard will may have instructions that indicate two witnesses are required to witness and sign the will. However, if one of the persons acting as a witness were also receiving a benefit from the will, they would be considered an “interested witness” under most state laws. As an interested witness, it opens the door to disgruntled heirs to challenge the will on the belief that it might have been signed under duress, fraud, and/or undue influence.

Online will making companies may be budget-friendly, but most people are better off hiring an experienced attorney who can meet all of their needs, and do it the right way. That way, your family doesn’t have to pay for any mistakes down the line.

 If you’d like to hire an attorney to assist with your estate plan, consider Anthony J. Madonia & Associates, Ltd. Contact us if you have any questions.