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Why Online Wills and Free Will Templates Might Not Work

Many people day that you can get a will drafted for next to nothing these days, simply by logging on to a service that cranks them out, or by buying online forms.

In fact, many people even download online forms for wills off the Internet, free of charge.

That’s all fine if you’ve got a simple estate with very few items. Why pay an estate planning lawyer to draft a will that may cost more than your assets on hand, right?

But if you’re dealing with a larger estate, then drafting a will from an online template isn’t the wisest thing.

There are many reasons why it’s not wise. Let’s give you a few reasons.

Can you even give that away? It might be easy to bequeath an item to someone. But are you even able to give a particular item away? For example, if you own a house in joint tenancy, you might think that you can give away your half. Think again. A joint tenancy comes with a right of survivorship, which means that the other joint tenant immediately gets the house when you die.

Do you have to pay estate tax on it? It sounds easy to draft a will and give your items away. But what if your estate is over the estate tax exemption amount? Then what do you do? You might be saying “that’s not me, I’m not a millionaire.” But imagine this— if you own a life insurance policy and it names a spouse or kid as a beneficiary, your estate might be taxed on the payout from that policy. And that’s even if your beneficiaries are others. Many life insurance policies pay out in the millions, so that might very well take your estate over the estate tax exemption amount (which might be $1 million in 2013).

Planning with kids. You might not want to give everything outright to your kids, especially if they’re young. And if both spouses pass away, have you thought about how your kids will be provided for, especially if you leave them in the care of a family member? You might want to consider setting up a trust to pay for the support of your child, until he or she reaches a certain age.

These are only a few things to think about. Next time you log on to the Internet searching for a cheap will, ask yourself whether it wouldn’t just be wiser to hire an estate planning lawyer.

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