Just as an exercise, one of our people went online to a website where people can get a “free” Will created. There are many of these services, although few advertise a Will for free.
Turns out, their Google ad for a “free” will was somewhat misleading: one can create a free will by filling out several fields, but that document is a “limited use” document, and only free for a short period of time to view and print – but to revise it or make it more than a basic Will, you have to pay. Even with the free option you have to give them your credit card information.
We’re all tempted to go online for a way to save money. But creating a Will is a very serious consideration. We don’t have to tell you that the repercussions of making a mistake – or simply overlooking something – on your Will, can be severe.
Are you thinking about using an online form to create a legal document? Well keep in mind that laws are called laws for a reason: they are very rigid, very specific, and hard to fight should you make a mistake.
A Will may seem to be a simple thing, and it can be. However even a simple Will should be prepared by an attorney trained in creating Wills and Estate Plans. Consider the following information:
- The language of a Will must be very specific and must follow rules and wording that the courts see as “legally binding”. It’s risky to make up your own words; they may be unclear in the eyes of the courts.
- Each state has different laws.
- A self-prepared Will may be difficult to prepare if you have specific wishes for specific heirs; if your intentions are not 100% clear, your estate may be tied up in the courts (Probate) for a long time.
- A Will triggers Probate when it’s your principal legal document relating to your estate. And Probate details are public information.
- Things change … the death of a spouse, divorce, re-marriage, etc., and your Will (or perhaps a Trust) must change to reflect the new changes or revised wishes.
- There are legal Estate Planning tools aside from a Will that can help you avoid Probate, reduce estate and income taxes, provide for loved ones who have special needs – but you’ll need the advice of an attorney trained in Estate Planning.
So, beware of the Do It Yourself approach. You know the saying: you get what you pay for.
Only attorneys trained in Estate Planning, Living Trusts, Trust Administration and Probate can give you the guidance and the legal tools to match your particular situation, protect your assets and ensure that your heirs get what you intended for them.