If you’ve never drafted your Last Will and Testament, you may be confused about the variety of approaches you can take. What makes a will legal, and can you create your will online? Let’s take a closer look.
What is the Legal Process for Creating a Will?
Your will simply states how you wish your assets to be handled after you die. That is your personal decision. Consequently, a lawyer is not legally necessary.
Many people prefer to run their Last Will and Testament by their attorney, but you are fully within your rights to draft your own will online. Specific regulations vary from state to state. However, most states require signatures from the testator (owner of the will) as well as two witnesses.
Pros and Cons of Creating an Online Will
Whether or not an online will is right for you depends on several factors. Typically speaking, the more complex your assets and situation (think divorces, minor children, joint accounts, etc.), the wiser it is to enlist the help of an attorney. However, for the average individual, an online will is both helpful and recommended.
Before you decide, it is important that you understand both the advantages and the disadvantages of creating an online will.
Pros of creating your will online
Here are 5 advantages of creating your will online:
1. Quicker Writing Time
As a whole, lawyers have a lot on their plate. Your lawyer may take several weeks or months to draft your will for you. With the right template, you can create your own will in less than an hour.
You might have to pay a small fee for the use of an online template. However, the one-time fee almost always costs less than an attorney’s hourly rate.
As technology advances, tasks like these become increasingly easier and more convenient for individuals. No need to travel to a faraway office. An online Will is quick. Just sit down at your computer and write down your exact wishes and you can have a finished product within a half hour. Writing your own will leaves little room for confusion concerning your final desires.
4. Something is Better than Nothing
Too often making a last will is put off, and consequently never done. People often put off writing a will due to the cost of writing it with an attorney or because they don’t want to face end-of-life decisions.
As a safeguard, having something is better than nothing. Too often, families are left feeling stranded when they face no direction regarding how you wish your assets to be distributed. Sometimes even a ring, an heirloom, a classic car, or your savings will become a source of contention among those left behind.
Many people prefer to keep the personal details of their life private, rather than involving anyone else.
Cons of creating your will online
Here are 2 disadvantages of creating your will online:
1. Not as Much Flexibility
Depending on the template you use, you might not be able to specify certain wishes. An attorney is experienced in complicated situations and relationships, while a template may be too simplified.
2. More Room for Errors
An attorney is trained to look for mistakes and loopholes. By creating your will on your own, it’s possible that small (or large) errors can prevent your will from standing up in court.
Tips for Drafting Your Online Will
If you do decide to create your will with the help of an online template, we recommend that you apply the following tips.
1. Watch the price
Online templates may cost a small amount of money, but they are generally less expensive than using a lawyer.
2. Cover your bases
3. Get another set of eyes
Always ask someone else to check your work before signing on the dotted line.
4. Check your state’s laws regarding wills
Each state has slightly different laws concerning what constitutes a ‘legal’ will. Before you begin writing, research your state requirements. Some states do not accept Holographic Wills (handwritten) or oral wills. A will must be signed by the testator with 2 witnesses (in some states 3) simultaneously. All witnesses must be ‘disinterested’ persons (not listed as a beneficiary).
5. Register the location of the will
Your online will doesn’t do much good if no one can access it later. Make sure to register the location of your will so that your loved ones can find it after you pass away.
6. Review your will every year or after every major life event
It is imperative that you review your will regularly to address any life changes. In the event of a marriage, divorce, birth, adoption, death, increased assets, or newly appointed executor, you will want to be sure it is updated.