When you decide you need a will or trust to legally designate what happens to your assets and minor children after you pass away, you have a few options for creating the documents you need. Two of the most popular ways are to use an online software program and to consult an estate planning lawyer.
There are advantages to both options. In this blog article, we’ll outline the benefits of each option so you can make the best decision for yourself and your family.
Why Having an Estate Plan Matters
Having a comprehensive estate plan that includes a will or trust is the only way you can be certain that your wishes for your assets and minor children will be carried out after you die. Simply having a list of ideas or directives is not enough. Without any legally binding documents, it’s up to the state to distribute your property using a generic approach established by Michigan law. If you own property, have children, or possess anything that you want specifically protected or handled a certain way after you’re gone, creating a will is a must.
How Online Will Generators Work
Most online will generators ask you to purchase a piece of software, download the program to your computer, and fill out the documents at your own pace. In some cases, the software may be completely web-based, with no downloads required.
The program will ask you pre-written questions about yourself and your estate and then turn your answers into a customized version of a templated will. There are various different services for online will-making that vary in price and complexity. The main benefits of these programs are that they’re fast, cheap, and don’t require you to leave the comfort of your home.
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So Why Would I Need an Attorney to Make My Will?
An estate planning attorney’s job is to get to know you, your family, and your living situation so they can create an estate plan that meets your needs. Unlike will-making software, an attorney builds a relationship with you and creates a unique document that addresses your wishes in a comprehensive, legally binding manner.
Especially if you have any complex variables in your estate or have a significant amount of assets, it’s in your best interest to consult an attorney for help creating a will or trust. “Complex variables” are anything you might need to consider that the average person doesn’t. Examples might include:
- You own a business.
- You or your partner are in your second marriage.
- You have extensive property and a large estate.
- You’re in an LGBTQ+ relationship and you want your estate plan to reflect that relationship.
- You, your partner, or your child has a disability that requires special care.
Some online will generators do a good job covering the basics for a person whose estate doesn’t involve these types of complexities. However, if your estate has unique considerations or you need to create a trust, connecting with an in-person attorney is your best bet. Visiting an attorney can be more expensive up-front than buying an online program, but the resulting document is more personalized and can give you more security than the results you would receive from will generating software. An attorney can also help you keep your estate plan up to date as life happens and your situation evolves over time.
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Online Will Generators: Worth the Risk?
When your estate is straightforward — for example, if you’re single with no dependents and only own a house and car — an online will generator could be sufficient to make sure your wishes are carried out. However, not consulting a lawyer means you could miss small, critical details that only an experienced estate planning attorney would know to look for. In general, the risk of using an online will generator is that you will save some time and money now but end up costing your loved ones much more later when your will turns out to be confusing, not legally binding, or contestable.
If you’re unsure whether an online will generator is right for you, that’s a sign you should contact an estate planning attorney. At Phillips & Santana, we can evaluate your situation for free and recommend the options that make the most sense for your unique situation.
Law Offices of Kari Santana: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
At Law Offices of Kari Santana, we understand that your family needs are as unique as you are. That’s why we meet with each client individually to get to know them and their family, learn about their needs, and create a document that preserves their wishes and their family legacy.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.