Online Wills: The Pros & Cons
Many companies have cropped up in the past few years offering low-cost will creation online. While it is becoming more popular, there are pros and cons that should be weighed before using an online will service.
Many sites, like Legalzoom offer online will creators. While this is far less expensive than having an attorney create a will, there are hidden costs associated with these services. Let’s look at the pros and cons of these services and how they can impact your estate planning.
Pro: The Cost of Online Will Creation is Lower
While this is the most enticing part of DIY wills, it does not come without associated costs that are not explained up front. For example, those with limited assets may benefit from using this type of service, but anyone with a more complicated estate will want to visit an attorney. There are certain things that online wills will not help you with, including:
- Digital assets
- Foreign assets
- Certain investment products
- Business assets
If you have assets such as these, then an online will creator will not be the best solution for you.
Con: You Still Need to Worry About Execution
One major drawback to online will creators is that the execution of the will still needs to be handled. Simply having a PDF file with your assets listed isn’t going to help much. You will still need to have the will filed with probate. Attempting to do this on your own can be a hassle. The other option is hiring an attorney to file it for you. However, no attorney will do it for free, so there will still be a cost associated with the service.
Con: Updating Your Will
Some services allow for updates to your will. Others need you to complete a brand new one. Either way, you will be paying to make the necessary changes. Of course, this can also be problematic, as you will need to also file the will yourself or pay an estate planning lawyer to do it for you. Many do not realize this hidden cost exists.
The other problem is that most of these companies don’t remind you to update your will. You must remember to change beneficiaries when necessary, add or remove assets, and any other changes. A good estate planning attorney will review your will with you annually and help you make the changes you need to make in order to ensure your final wishes are respected.
DIY online will makers are quick. They can usually have a simple will created for you in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, sometimes speed can be a problem. Things can be missed, as many of these are templates that may or may not conform to every state law. Often you will pay for a service like this, only to be referred to an attorney in your state anyway, as the online will maker can’t handle your requests.
Michigan estate planning can be complex if your assets include more than a house, checking account and vehicles. It is always best to use a Michigan estate planning lawyer when having your will prepared.
Is an Online Will the Same as a Digital Will?
No. A digital will is a portion of your will or estate plan where your digital assets are dispositioned accordingly. There are good services that handle digital wills exclusively, some better than others. Services like DigitalWill.com handle the execution and instructions for your digital assets and allow you to leave your final messages for loved ones. These then are taken care of by the company. Other services simply have you list your digital assets and hope that your relatives remember your passwords.
Online wills are those that we have been discussing. They mostly do not have a digital component, and if they do, it can be confusing to figure out. Hiring an attorney to handle your will is still your best bet.
If you are like the 70% of Americans without a will, you are leaving your assets and their disposition up to the state. Contact The Mitten Law Firm for a free consultation on your estate plan today.
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