Making a will is an important step in estate planning, as it allows you to decide how some of your assets will be distributed after you die. In today’s digital age, there are a plethora of online will websites that offer the convenience of creating a will from the comfort of your home. While online will-making may seem appealing, it is essential to consider the many dangers and limitations associated with this approach.
No estate plan
Online wills websites and the media have you believing that all you need is a will, and you’ll be fine. But a will is simply one of many tools in an estate plan. And before you say it – estate planning is not only for wealthy people! We like to think of the estate plan as the umbrella, under which many different tools sit. A will is one of them, but other tools like beneficiary designations, jointly held assets, trusts, life insurance etc. are also essential tools. By solely focusing on the will and not on the overall estate plan, you are likely going to cause unnecessary costs and potentially disputes after you die. With proper advice from an estate planning lawyer, you’ll pass your assets to your loved ones with less costs and fewer disputes when the time comes.
Lack of advice
One significant concern with making a will online is the lack of legal expertise and guidance provided by a wills lawyer. These legal experts specialize in estate planning and possess a comprehensive understanding of the laws and regulations surrounding wills and probate. Online will-making platforms typically provide standardized templates or questionnaires that individuals use to create their wills. However, these templates often do not adequately address specific circumstances or legal complexities that can arise in estate planning. Each person’s situation is unique, and there may be intricate details or family dynamics that need more careful consideration. Without the guidance of a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer, there is a risk of overlooking crucial elements in the will or failing to comply with legal requirements.
The language used in wills is highly technical and specific. Properly interpreting and incorporating legal terms and phrases is crucial to ensure the document’s validity and enforceability. Without the assistance of a wills lawyer, there is a greater likelihood of ambiguous or poorly worded provisions in the will, which can lead to confusion, disputes, and potential challenges during the probate process.
Many online wills use templates from jurisdictions outside of British Columbia. Lots of them marketed to people in Vancouver are even created in different countries. Laws are different in each province, state and country, so this is obviously concerning. Over the past few years, our probate lawyers have had to correct incorrectly worded provisions in wills by court order – often times costing the estate thousands of dollars in legal fees. In the worst cases, a provision cannot be corrected, and the wrong people end up with your hard-earned money.
While online will-making may appear convenient and cost-effective, it is essential to recognize the potential dangers associated with this approach. The lack of estate planning and legal expertise, combined with poor wording and wills created according to a different province’s laws could create frustration and costs for your loved ones. Consulting with a qualified wills lawyer ensures that your wishes are accurately documented, minimizes the risk of legal disputes, and provides peace of mind that your estate will be handled according to your intentions.