Almost everything can be done online these days, and most of the time, it makes our lives easier and saves time. But should you download and fill out a generic will online because…
“I live a boring, generic life that never changes” — said no one ever.
But in all seriousness, we know people value their time and money, and the convenience of a “one and done” form you can download online does seem convenient and cost-effective. Maybe this is true upfront, but here are the reasons why a D.I.Y. will might backfire and end up costing you or your loved ones more in the long run.
Save your beneficiaries money AND their sanity.
Look, the whole point of a will isn’t for your benefit, but for your beneficiaries; that’s why they’re called beneficiaries! But if they have to sift through documents that weren’t filled out correctly or only to find out something of importance was overlooked, they’re not benefitting from your pre-planning, are they?
To help avoid costly trips to probate lawyers and court, going to a professional and experienced estate attorney to help you draft your will and estate plan will, in the long run, give your family peace of mind long after you’re gone.
State laws are particular and complex.
Downloading a will online isn’t always a “one size fits all” document, especially when it comes to state laws. While, generally speaking, legal documents should be recognized state-to-state, it’s not always the case when some states have specific and particular stipulations regarding wills and estate plans.
Sure, you can Google all these things on your own, but having a licensed estate attorney from your specific state can make sure you’re dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s to satisfy state laws as well as national.
Wills aren’t a one-and-done document.
Sure, you had only the best intentions printing off a will or estate plan and tucking it away in a folder, which then gets tucked away in a box, which then gets tucked away in an attic corner and forgotten for fifty years. If, and when something happens to you, your best intentions have gone to waste if your loved ones have no idea what, or if anything has changed over those five decades—that is to say, if they can even find the document!
Yes, having something is better than nothing; however, wills and estate plans are meant to grow with you and your life, not stay stagnant. Many changes and stages happen throughout someone’s life that makes it impossible to say that the wishes, desires, assets, and beneficiaries will remain the same for fifty-plus years. For example, a new parent’s estate plan will look very different when that same parent becomes an empty nester eighteen years later. Choosing an estate attorney who understands this and will be there in your corner through every twist and turn of your life is invaluable.
Face-to-face guidance from an estate attorney can help with complex circumstances.
From divorce to step-children to business ownership to owning valuable property and investments, chances are a downloadable, generic will isn’t going to fit your specific life situation. Seeking out an estate attorney can put your mind at ease and bring up solutions to problems you may not even know your loved ones would run into after your death.
“But wait! What if I already filled out a will online?”
That’s OK! A professional attorney can still look it over to make sure you haven’t missed anything or add vital information or additional documents you need to include.