The Weekly Scenario: Online Will Programs
Question: I’m interested in having a Will drawn up. How good are the online Will programs?
Answer: Right now, you can do practically anything online that used to require face-to-face contact. You can buy a car, do your banking or even download a form to write your own will. But a “do-it-yourself” will is a risky proposition, especially if you have any complications or wealth.
A will that isn’t executed properly under state law isn’t legally binding. When a Will fails, your assets will be distributed according to state intestacy laws, regardless of whether that was your intent. If you have young children, a court may appoint their legal guardian.
Laws can vary widely from state to state. For instance, some states recognize verbal or ‘oral’ wills, while others don’t. A state may require two attesting witnesses and sometimes a notary as well.
One common mistake of do-it-yourself wills is leaving out important provisions that can lead to challenges in the future.
If the will doesn’t include a residuary clause addressing amounts that are “left over” after estate debts and tax payments have been settled, an unintended beneficiary could walk away with the lion’s share of the estate. This person might even be a family member you had wanted to “disinherit.”
Comment: Your Will could be your ‘last’ shot at stating your wishes with regards to your property. Sometimes you get two, three or more bites at the apple. On the other hand, the Will in place now, might be your ‘only’ shot.
As always, if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Steve Shane at email@example.com or .
ABOUT STEVE SHANE
Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.
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