Online Wills: Why You Shouldn’t Use DIY Will Services

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    Online Wills- Why You Shouldn’t Use DIY Will Services

    Online Wills: Why You Shouldn’t Use DIY Will Services

    Online Wills created through DIY Will services are attractive to many people due to their money and time savings benefits. But in reality, they’re problematic and can ultimately cost your family far more than using an estate planning attorney.

    Put it this way, would you risk a computer’s technical error rendering your will invalid, or would you rather trust an expert estate planning attorney to ensure it’s legally watertight?

    Here are the most common issues we see with using online wills:

    Reasons to Not Use DIY Will Services

    Expensive Mistakes and Errors

    Estate planning is rarely as simple as filling in a few blanks on a form. Last wills are legally binding documents and every word counts. Even the smallest mistake could leave a Will invalid or at risk of lengthy and expensive legal battles.

    We’ve seen hundreds of online wills missing key documents, typos that lead to misinterpretations and misguided estate planning decisions. Our estate planning attorneys can help you draft, review and revise a Last Will and Testament to protect your family and its wealth.

    Online wills can go horribly wrong. If you find these mistakes early, you can fix them. But if not, it’ll be too late and your family will pay the cost.

    Personal Representatives

    A personal representative is a person who is selected to administer the estate of a deceased person. This person must be trusted, cool-headed and competent enough to manage your estate and protect your family.

    But there are rules. For example, in Florida, the personal representative must be a Florida resident unless they’re directly related to the Will creator. They must also be aged 18 or older and have no felony conviction to their name.

    Online Wills often overlook these rules. They allow you to enter a name quickly with little to no review.

    If the personal representative of choice is not valid, the court will make an appointment which may not be one you or family members want.

    Failure to Consider Taxes

    Passing assets to your beneficiaries and heirs isn’t as easy as simply naming them.

    Asset distribution affects taxation, probate, creditors and all sorts of other legal issues.

    A DIY service for online wills won’t be thinking like an estate planning attorney. It won’t be able to make judgments about what’s best for you. For example, what if you could avoid estate taxes by using a trust, setting up an LLC or by gifting your assets? Or what if you could protect your assets from creditors? These decisions won’t be assessed or advised by an algorithm. Whereas a real experienced Florida last will and testament attorney will be able to explain, advise and guide you through all the options available to you.

    Improperly Witnessed

    In Florida, there are strict laws for witnessing the signing of a will. It must be signed in the presence of the testator and the Will creator must be of sound mind.

    If you do this online, it could be easily challenged.

    Self-Proving Affidavit

    By attaching a self-proving affidavit to your last will, you can also speed up the probate process. Not all states provide this option, which means the DIY service you use could also fail to provide it.

    Using Language Loosely

    The terminology and language used in your will can be crucial in the way it’s interpreted. It needs to be clear and cause no confusion over your vision.

    If, for example, you have raised a stepchild from a very young age and also have three biological children – you have raised four children in total. But, in the end, if you state, “my estate should be distributed equally to my children,” then your stepchild will be ignored entirely.

    This is just a quick example of how an online will created through a DIY will service can overlook minor uses of language that later prove costly.

    Overlooking Other Estate Planning Essentials

    There are various other important estate planning decisions that should be made, which are often ignored by DIY will services.

    You need to assign someone to make medical decisions for you in case you are incapacitated, someone to manage your finances and you also need to assign a guardian for your children if you pass away or become incapacitated while they’re still young.

    Overlooking What You Don’t Know

    Perhaps the best summary of why you shouldn’t use online will services is that they leave you at risk of what you don’t know. Most DIY will services presume you already know what you want and need. But in reality, there are complexities that are unique to each family’s circumstances.

    All those other important documents, laws and potential estate planning options can’t be offered or even considered if they’re not mentioned on the service.

    By contacting a real, experienced Florida estate planning attorney, you can get a full estate planning overview with expert advice that opens doors you didn’t even know existed.

    Never Use a DIY Will Service If:

    Although online wills have grown in popularity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, here are just a few scenarios where you should never use an online will:

    • You have children with special needs.
    • You’re getting married soon.
    • You have a history of cognitive impairment.
    • You’re separated from your partner.
    • You’ve recently been in the hospital.
    • You have multiple properties.
    • You need dual wills.
    • You want to avoid probate.
    • You own assets outside of Florida.
    • You need help choosing a personal representative.

    U.S. Estate Planning Statistics

    Contact a Florida Probate Attorney

    If you want to create a last will and testament in Florida, you can contact a Florida probate attorney. Our attorneys can help guide you through the process, ensuring you avoid costly mistakes while also explaining potential asset and wealth protection opportunities to you.

    Free Consultations

    Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced attorneys, they can help you avoid the long and complicated probate process.

    Schedule a free consultation today to get started or to get any questions answered.

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