Nowadays you can find everything you need online from clothes and books to legal documents. Even better than the convenience of the internet are the prices. You can generally find anything you want for less online. This includes legal documents. A simple Google search for “sample will” will return thousands of results – any one of which you can click on and be guided through writing your will. Easy . . . Fast . . . Cheap . . . DANGEROUS! You are not getting the same service from an internet form as you would from a licensed attorney. These websites cannot give you legal advice. They are not designed to look at your wants and needs and devise an appropriate estate plan. All these websites provide is a bunch of blanks for you to fill in and it spits out a generic will that may or may not be effective. Your information is entered into the generic form regardless of whether it makes sense or is a good idea. A website cannot recommend that rather than having assets tranfer directly to a person, you may be better off having those assets transferred into a trust with that person as the beneficiary. A website cannot advise you about potential tax consequences. A website does not recommend other documents that will comprise a full estate plan, which includes a number of other documents in addition to the will. The long and the short of it is that websites do not provide the personalized service and advice you will receive from a licensed attorney. Online document services only spit out “one-size-fits-all” generic documents that may not do anything at all. These services cannot guarantee a specific legal result, which could result in a huge mess for your loved ones when you are gone. All these services can gurantee is a good price. Unfortunately, there is no way for an individual to know whether the will they created using an online document service is effective. Their family will know, though, when they are dealing with cleaning up the mess created by a DIY will. Don’t risk it. Consult an attorney to discuss your estate planning needs.
Written by Catherine Taylor, Esq.