Something new on the market that has constantly come up due to the fear of CoVID-19 is the legality of online wills, whether on a web site or on a smartphone app. I was recently asked to share my opinion on these, so I thought it would be a great topic for the blog.
My answer is pretty straightforward: unless there is a competent attorney customizing the will, electronic wills are ineffective. Nowadays, everyone is an arm-chair lawyer and/or doctor. Yes, transactional lawyers draft agreements. That is what we do, but that is only one part of what we do.
Attorney-Prepared Estate Documents
The real benefits of having a real and competent attorney prepare estate documents are:
- You receive updated advice based on current trends in the law
- You can rely on their advice in the event you get challenged in court. (if you are ever sued or the advice is called into question, you cannot go to court and say, I read it on the Internet, or I found this template online, or one of the document-mills did it for me. In reading most of their fine print, it says, they are not attorneys.
Dangers of Online Wills and Trusts
And to top that off, here are some reasons NOT to pursue an online or DIY estate planning document:
- Any kind of DIY policy can leave you paying for costly mistakes. Even if a web site stresses that is has a staff of attorneys, chances are the legal documents they offer are streamlined – NOT customized and therefore, could be riddled with loopholes.
- While there are many online services available to handle personal situations like taxes and home-buying, but when it comes to wills and trusts, remember that you’re not going to be the one dealing with the details. It will be your loved ones that have to fight for what an incorrect legal document failed to protect.
- Many people think that when you write down a will on a piece of paper, you’re completely covered. However, it’s easy to leave important pieces out of a will if you don’t know the laws of the state you live in. Also, if there’s a chance your will can be contested, you’ll want to make sure it’s legally binding.
I’m all about getting a good deal when it makes sense. When it comes to legal wills and trust, hiring a knowledgeable attorney just makes sense. This is just one area that YouTube can’t train someone on.
Until next time, I’m Francine D. Ward, estate planning, wills, and trusts attorney. Keep yourself safe, friends.
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