FAQs for Online Wills Compared to Attorney Prepared Wills

What’s the difference between online wills and Attorney prepared wills?

  • Online wills are either a simple form or software that asks you questions and fills out the form for you.  Attorneys ask questions based on meeting you, so their questions are more specific and they answer your questions.  Experienced attorneys also discuss what’s good for you and those you care about, so that the Will is tailored to you.  Finally, an Attorney will make sure your Will is properly signed and witnessed so that it is valid.

Are there any dangers to an online will compared to an Attorney prepared will?

  • The online will preparer doesn’t know if you understand the legal terms or questions it asks to prepare the form.  Which means a Judge in  Probate Court may need to figure out what you meant because the Will doesn’t make sense.  (I’ve been to probate court to deal with online wills; it creates an interesting challenge for the judge to figure out what the person drafting the will meant or wanted done.).
  • Online wills don’t make suggestions or discuss with you what would work best for your situation.  Instead, the form or the software  makes guesses as to what most people will most likely need.  It’s sort of like designing a line of clothing and assuming everyone is a size ten.  Except that it’s worse since Wills cover a lot of decisions and people tend to have strong views on what suits them best.
  • Online wills are usually stand alone — they don’t include the documents that should go with a Will such as a medical power of attorney.  Each of these documents has a special purpose and work with the other documents as a group to protect the person who drafts it and their heirs.  Attorneys often offer all of these documents for a flat fee while most software and forms offer just a will and if they offer the other documents, they are at a separate price and there’s no explanation of what you need or how the forms work together.

 

What is the price difference between an online will and one prepared by an attorney?

  • Online wills can be free or very cheap.  Attorney prepared ones are flat fee (meaning the attorney does it as a package for one price rather than hourly ) and vary in cost (you’d have to call an attorney or two to get their exact price).  Attorney prepared wills are always more expensive than an online Will, but on the other hand, going to Probate Court to figure out an online will is roughly three times more expensive than if an attorney had prepared a valid will to begin with.  Even if the will is valid and no one feels like fighting about any errors in Court, if heirs have to hire an attorney to figure out the will and how to carry it out, that tends to be far more expensive as well.

If I do an online will, can I have an Attorney check it?

  • Sure, and many will tell you if your online will is correct or needs changes.   Ask to see if you’d be paying their hourly rate or if they offer a flat fee.

 

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