Online wills have come into vogue in recent years, with many advertising themselves as a speedy, affordable option when compared to traditional legal consultation. While these options are both convenient and cheap, they also come with a considerable amount of risk.
If the following three risks sound concerning to you, you should seriously consider creating a new, reliable will with the estate planning team at SLN Law.
Risk #1: Unintended Consequences
Online service providers usually offer Wills for all fifty states. However, laws vary from state to state. A Will that is legal in Florida may not necessarily work in Massachusetts and vice versa.
Simply put, you cannot (and should not) trust a faceless online service provider simply because they are claiming that they’ve found a way to simplify the complex process of creating a will. Before they become effective, all Wills must be found valid by the Probate Court in your state. Should your will not be accepted as valid, the court will treat you has having passed without a Will, and your estate will be subject to the intestate laws of that State, regardless of the instructions you wrote in your Will. The last thing you want is for your Will to be found invalid. Not only will your assets be distributed contrary to your wishes, but the added court costs and legal fees to straighten everything out can significantly reduce the amount left for your family.
Risk #2: Lack of Individuality
Traditional lawyers have always excelled in providing their clients with individualized legal solutions to meet their unique situations. Online wills, on the other hand, are one-size-fits-all solutions to a very important legal document. You simply cannot count on an online will to provide you with the specialized coverage your unique circumstances require.
You know your family best, and you know how different each one of your children are. Some are good with money, others need more oversight. Some are super organized, others have the best intentions but are always a bit scattered. Do you want your family vacation home to be available for the whole family for generations to come? Do you want your pets cared for in a specific way? Do you need to provide for a disabled child while ensuring their governmental benefits aren’t put in jeopardy? Online Wills either fail to provide for these circumstances or cause large legal and court fees to have your wishes followed.
Lawyers are people and stand behind their work and want to serve you for years to come. You cannot count on an online service provider to be available in the future when you need them to answer your important questions. In fact, there’s no promise that these online will services will even provide you with the requisite service before they skip town with your money. In so many words, using an online will creation service opens you to a considerable risk for loss of assets and family turmoil in the future.
Risk #3: Difficult to Modify
A will is, to some extent, a living document that should not be filed away as soon as it is made. Indeed, a will should be modified any time a core aspect of its considerations – from assets to marital status – changes in nature. Traditional lawyers make this process easy through follow-up consultations while online wills simply do not provide any opportunity to make changes after the fact.
Many changes can be made quickly and without any hassle, but they must compliment your original will and not invalidate it. A change to your Will, known as a Codicil, must also be witnessed and notarized properly for it to be effective. Simply drafting multiple new wills through an online service whenever you want a change causes confusion as to which is the correct will and increase the chance that your Will will not be validated by the court.
The Bottom Line
Simply put, the risks of relying on an online will are substantial enough, such that you should give any prospective online will service a hard look before investing your time and money.
Even though these online options add some convenience, the best option for will creation and estate planning in general remains through a traditional legal team, such as the experts at SLN Law. These professionals can provide you with individualized legal assistance that won’t leave you exposed to expensive court and legal fees down the line.
Don't forget, blog readers enjoy 10% off our estate planning rates. Click here to learn more.