ONLINE DO-IT-YOURSELF WILLS ARE RISKY FOR ESTATE PLANNING

Many Texas residents have tried to create a will on their own. If you are well versed in estate planning law, you may be able to do this. However, a recent article evaluates online drafting alternatives for estate planning. Despite the many do-it-yourself wills that are available online, professionals say that most people need help in constructing these legal documents.

Sure, a do-it-yourself will can work for individuals or couples with simple, child-free lives. However, most lives are complex enough to require detailed wills. Specifically, domestic partners, couples with more than $1 million in assets and non-citizens are some of the people who probably want to retain an attorney.

Furthermore, an evaluation of online do-it-yourself wills show that they may not be sufficient. For example, LegalZoom is an online legal document factory. Legal professionals reviewed the accuracy of the online site. In one case, attorneys examined an estate plan, which was constructed from the website.

According to reports, the website lacked legal backbone, especially in issues related to guardians. Who will take care of your kids when you pass? Do you have any backups? Furthermore, the will was missing age specifications for trusts. Most parents want their kids to be older when accessing such money. If you and your spouse were to die while your kids were young, LegalZoom would give your children access to trust money right away.

Attorneys found many other technical problems on LegalZoom and similar websites. Ultimately, professionals determined that the $81 spent on the website was not enough for a legally sufficient will. Furthermore, even if an individual were to pay for the Cadillac of wills on LegalZoom, one would ultimately be looking at hundreds of dollars for a mediocre and unstable will.

Therefore, if you are interested in making estate plans, you may want to speak to a legal professional. Unless you have an unusually simple life or are extremely knowledgeable in estate law, it may be difficult to do this on your own.

Source: The Oregonian, “Fill-in-the-blank wills can be a little skimpy,” Brent Hunsberger, March 10, 2012