The Disadvantages of Online Wills
When it comes time to plan for the future, you may want to get things over with quickly. You might want to avoid including lawyers and financial planners because you worry they will complicate matters or make them drag on. You might also not want to think about end-of-life issues too long. All of these concerns can steer you toward using online forms to create a will. However, this is a risky endeavor. Online wills are often lacking and can set your family up for trouble when you are gone. Instead of automatically turning to basic forms, at least speak with an attorney about how they can help you efficiently draft a will that dictates exactly what you want for your family, close friends, and favored organizations.
Where Online Wills May Fail
Online wills tend to be very basic. They rarely account for anything other than a typical distribution of a small estate. However, if you want to be more specific in how your estate is distributed or you have more complex concerns, an online will fail you by:
- Not providing the intended beneficiary with necessary power to execute certain actions
- Not accounting for children or grandchildren who have yet to be born
- Insufficiently disinheriting a child or grandchild
- Lacking a residuary clause
- Not taking into account tax ramifications
This is only a brief list of some of what can go wrong with a do-it-yourself will. Schedule a consultation with an attorney to determine the complexity of your situation and what you need that online wills cannot provide.
Do Not Forget the Legal Formalities
Florida statute §732.502 dictates the formalities necessary to execute a will. Any will you want to be effective when you pass away must:
- Be in writing,
- Have your signature at the end,
- Have two witnesses to your acknowledging and signing the document, and
- Have the two witnesses’ signatures.
You cannot simply fill out an online form, print it out, and stick it in a drawer and expect it to be valid. If you choose to use pre-made forms, you still need to adhere to Florida’s formalities, including having two witnesses (who should be individuals who do not receive money or property in your will), signing the will in front of your witnesses, and then having them sign the document as well. If you do not follow these formalities in relation to an online will, it may be declared invalid and your family will have to go through a lengthy and costly probate process.
The Importance of the Self-Proving Affidavit
Finally, it is necessary to understand the importance of a self-proving affidavit when crafting a will. To be clear, the self-proving affidavit is a form signed by the testator, two witnesses, and a notary, who all attest to witnessing the testator sign the document, and that they were all in the presence of one another at the time of the signing.
This self-proving affidavit proves to be useful when the will is entered into probate. Without the existence of a self-proving affidavit, the witnesses must be tracked down at the time of probate in order to obtain affidavits, which can be an extremely costly process. The self-proving affidavit helps avoid this process, saving significant time and money.
An Attorney Can Help You
You may worry about the time and cost necessary to work with an attorney on your will. However, consider how working with an experienced lawyer can help you and your family. A lawyer knows what questions to ask you to determine what you really want in the future. They can ensure a will is personalized and that the intended beneficiaries really get what you want. Your lawyer can also spot potential consequences, such as your beneficiaries being hit with financial ramifications they cannot afford. At the most basic level, an attorney will help you devise a plan that minimizes the taxes for your loved ones.
To learn more about the benefits of working with an estate planning attorney instead of using online forms to draft your will, call the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. today. Our West Palm Beach legal team is eager to assist you with your case.