Do a quick search online of “create a will” or “do it yourself will” and you will quickly find a large amount of options for you to create your own last will and testament. This is not a new thing. These have been around for a number of years. They were once only offered by companies that handled legal documents. However, now you can work directly online with Amazon to do your own will. The question is: should you? Let’s discuss the pros and cons of the “do it yourself will”.
What is it?
A do it yourself will kit is a set of online documents that take the person step by step, page by page, creating their last will and testament. It begins by asking a set of questions – general questions. These questions start out with asking where you live, whether you are married and if this is for you or you and your spouse. Depending on your state’s law, it picks up some general information and places it into the templates for you.
Using the online template to create your will is quick and easy. You can do it in an afternoon, pay a small price, print it off and file it away for safekeeping. However, when the day comes that someone needs to rely on your will, there may be gaping holes in that online document.
What It Is NOT
An online Do It Yourself Will is just that. You made the decisions, all of them. You were guided by general templates rather than the advice of an experienced estate lawyer. That may not seem important at the time when you are trying to save money. However, there are nuances within each state’s law that can have a great impact on your estate after you are gone. Having your wishes fulfilled exactly as you want and having your assets protected for your loved ones is the reason you went online to do a will in the first place. Here are some of the benefits you gain from having an experienced estate lawyer work for you.
- An understanding of the law in the state(s) where you have assets. This is critical. Many states have requirements that are not specified in the online versions or that you may not realize you must answer. NH, for example, has some unique aspects of the law that are not applicable in other areas.
- A detailed gathering of your assets. Rather than ask you generic questions, an estate lawyer seeks out anything that may be part of your overall estate so that nothing gets overlooked.
- Opportunities to update. This cannot be emphasized enough because many wills get invalidated due to changes in a person’s life that were not addressed in the Will. When you seek out an attorney, he will work with you to change your estate plan when your life changes.
- Opportunities to update when the law changes. It’s critical that you have sound legal advice when state law changes something that could affect your estate plan.
- Protection against fraud. After your death, your lawyer will know the steps to take to ensure that your wishes are granted and your loved ones, family or charity get what you planned for them to have.
- Probating the will after your death can take a lot longer with an online will, especially if there are any challenges. Challenging the validity of an online will is much easier than challenging a will done by an estate lawyer who worked directly with you and can attest to your state of mind, your words and verify that the state law was followed.
Choose What’s Right For You
You may think you cannot afford an estate lawyer. Think of an estate plan as part of your overall insurance policy. It’s something you pay for now to ensure that your assets are protected for the future after you are gone. If you are married, you both may want to consider protections for one another. If you have children, you may have reasons to create a solid plan for them. There may be reasons you want to leave someone out of your estate. These are things that should be done with an estate lawyer, not a document online.
Jason works directly with families to create the plan they need for protection after they have passed on. Contact him here for details on how to get your plan started.