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News & Info

The Pitfalls of Online and Form Wills

Jul 11 2014

Written by -Jason C. Henbest, Esq. and Brittany Saxton

We have all seen the commercials for the self-help legal websites such as LegalZoom, Will & Trust Kit, LegacyWriter, BuildaWill, and Nolo. Anyone can find a Will and complete their own estate plan online for as little as $20.00! But at what risk?

It is imperative to contemplate the consequences of a cheap legal document in comparison to a Will drafted by your lawyer.

It is not always clear who drafted the Will forms you find online.
Many assume that estate planning is only for the wealthy, but this belies the fact that people on every economic level benefit from a Will drafted by a qualified attorney. A Will distributes property to beneficiaries with as little tax as possible. Attorneys with extensive legal education and experience provide the best advice on the distribution of an estate. And frankly, for those who have few assets, it is that much more important to make sure that every asset goes where intended.
There are numerous rules to estate disposition, and these rules vary by state. What you find online may have been drafted for North Carolina, Kansas, or California. An online Will, available to residents of New Jersey, may not include the specifics that are needed here.

Not only does your Will need to be written correctly, there are very specific rules on how it must be executed. This service is already provided at an attorney’s office.
Even though online and form Wills are largely available to the public, these quick, inexpensive mediums are not for everyone. Real life involves more complicated situations than fill-in-the-blank answers. Situations like multiple marriages, divorces, step-children, family businesses, real property across state lines, and timeshares are difficult to explain in a single phrase. Using a form could result in a square peg-round hole problem, and by the time the problem is discovered, it may be too late.

Making the decision to go to your attorney for proper legal documents has potential to save money in the long-term. If a Will is not done properly prior to the Testator’s passing, it may be impossible to correct, and there will be no recourse against the website where the form was obtained.

Paying for professional legal services has no adequate substitute, particularly regarding the matter of the lifelong investment into your estate. Your assets have worth, and so should the documents that decide the fate of your estate.