An Online Will Cannot Replace Professional Advice
While a quick and simple online Will may sound like a great deal, the time saved in the short-term may become very costly in the long-term. Nothing can replace the value of having a professional draft and review the Will to ensure that it is thorough and that it will be able to withstand challenges. The best thing an individual can do to make life easier for loved ones is to ensure that his or her affairs are in order.
A generic document is, by definition, not designed to consider unique circumstances. Simplified, pre-printed forms often allow an individual to draft a Will without regard to personal or financial circumstances. If the document fails to account for an individual’s specific assets, they may be inaccessible when loved ones need them most. It is also important to remember that generic Will kits may be derived from a document crafted by an attorney who has no experience in elder law.
Another consideration when reviewing an online kit is that it will not take into account applicable state law. In addition, such kits often fail to factor in the taxes to which larger estates may be subjected. When bequeathing assets such as real estate or a family business, it is imperative that protections be in place to avoid heavy tax burdens that may be imposed on beneficiaries. Online kits also cannot make recommendations concerning trusts, life insurance, long-term care insurance, or many other important estate planning tools.
Some kits include a Living Will, while others do not. Those that do may fail to take into consideration important individual needs. Without proper and thorough individualized planning, a living will could fail to cover key medical contingencies. Should this occur, a medical power of attorney would be necessary–but a medical power of attorney is yet another estate planning tool that a generic online kit may fail to recommend. Leaving loved ones uncertain about medical decisions can lead to significant conflict within a family.
When engaged in estate planning, it is important to use every tool applicable to an individual’s personal circumstances. Generic kits, by their very nature, cannot provide the necessary guidance to ensure that an estate plan is both appropriate and thorough. In all cases, an attorney familiar with the multiple facets of estate planning should be consulted to avoid unnecessary complications, costs, and inconvenience.