A professional trustee and executor recently addressed the issue of online wills in Forbes. She notes that although using an online standardized fill-in-the blank will may appear to save you money and time; however, using this type of service may lead to expensive and unpleasant mistakes. Unfortunately, your loved ones will experience the ramifications of these mistakes in probate court after you are gone. These mistakes are often costly and exhaust the value of the estate.
Problems with Online Wills
Many online estate planning services appear to have a low price for the do-it-yourself, fill-in-the-blanks will. They advertise that they have attorneys on staff who can answer your questions. Some problems with this will preparation approach are:
- Access to specific help is almost never available, and if it is, you will be charged more for the consultation.
- If you have a question, you will generally discover that you pay more for each question you ask. You may not even talk to a live attorney, but a drop-down menu appears with pre-written answers to the most frequently asked questions. You may ultimately pay more than you would if you worked with a professional estate planning attorney.
- The online sites are standardized and presume you know exactly what you want. A big problem with this is that you don’t know what you don’t know, so you may not even know what questions you should be asking.
- Texas has its own probate code with specific requirements for a will to be valid. You could possibly pay for an online will that will later be deemed invalid.
- Each state has different probate procedures and laws regarding wills. You may end up with an estate plan that costs you more in the end because you are not aware of the options available in Texas.
How a Professional Will and Estate Planning Attorney Can Help
Your will needs to provide detailed instructions about how you want your assets distributed after your death. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you know the best estate planning approach for your specific life circumstances. You may discover a trust will work better for you than a will, or maybe you need them both. There are many estate planning practices that can help you avoid probate altogether. Meeting with a professional estate planning attorney can help you avoid the mistakes that are often made in a fill-in-the-blank approach.
An attorney will also assist you with other documents you need, like a power of attorney or advance health care directive. These documents provide for your financial and health care if you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself.
Attorney Aubry Dameron at Springer & Lyle can answer questions you have regarding wills, estate planning and probate. She will review the detailed circumstances unique to you and guide you to deciding what specific estate planning documents will best meet your needs. Contact her at 940.387.0404 to schedule a consultation appointment.