One of the things I think every one of us has done a lot more of in the past 18 months or so is conducting business online. Whether that means going to school, paying our bills, or even attending church a lot of us have done more online in the past few months than ever before. I hope that this becomes less of a need over the next few months and we can go back to doing most everything in person. However, I will grant you that it is been by necessity that a lot of activities have been moved online. With that said, paying a bill online is a lot different than drafting a will, for example.

I completely understand the inclination to want to do something like draft a will online. For starters, if I had to take a guess I would venture to say that most people over the age of 18 do not have a will. That is a major mistake. No matter how young you are, how old you are, how much property you have, or how little amount of property you have you need to have a will. There is no getting around it. With that said, the method you employ to have that will be created is important. For starters, the amount of effort you put into creating and finalizing a will is typically proportional to the amount of benefit you get for having had the world created in the first place. Meaning: the more time you spend on the will the better off you will be.

Now, just because you spend a lot of time on something doesn’t mean it’s going to be better. I have had meals in my life where the person preparing the meal cooked all day and the meal was just OK. Or, I have had meals prepared by people and short orders that were some of the best of my life. It just depends on the ingredients that go into creating the meal as well as the person who’s preparing the food. The best chef in the world can take simple ingredients and create a marvelous meal for you and your family. Or, I could take complex and fancy ingredients and create a meal for you and your family you wouldn’t want to touch with a 10-foot pole. 

All of this is to say that but you and your family need as far as a will can vary a great deal and we need to be concerned with the extent to which time and effort are put into creating this will. On top of that, simply spending a lot of time and money on something does not guarantee you a great result. You need to be very discerning and very careful with how you draft and ultimately create your will. Simply wanting to create a will that will stand the test of time for you and your family makes this so. Rather, the true test of a will is how well it suits your family as well as whether or not it stands up to scrutiny in a courtroom.

While this does not happen two frequently, it could happen that after you pass away the executor of your state attempts to probate the will to move forward with the is miss creation and execution of your wishes. Come to find out, that you may have family or anyone else who is an interested party step in to challenge your will on grounds that it may be invalid. In a time that would already be difficult for your grieving family, day in the executor of your estate must go through defending your will in probate court. This can be a tough experience for everyone involved and takes away from what will already be difficult work in favor of sorting through a matter that they all had hoped would have been behind you after you created the will in the first place. Regardless, you need to be aware of the shortcomings that could be found in your will and how creating an online will may not serve you and your family in the long run.

Ultimately, what you are about to read is intended for a general audience. I have no idea if this information will be relevant specifically to you and your circumstances. I think that it will be based on my years of experience as an attorney but I cannot be sure. For that, you would need to seek out the advice and perspective of an experienced probate and estate planning attorney.

The experienced estate planning and probate attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are just the kinds of people who stand ready to assist you. Our staff of attorneys, paralegals, and legal assistance understand what it is like to have to sort through the end-of-life issues well also balancing degree hardships associated with the passing of a loved one. Our charities offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video where we can discuss any questions you may have about the validity of a will as well as how an online will may not suit you and your family all that well. 

Again, what you find to be helpful in your situation may not be relevant to your neighbor or vice versa. With that said I want to share with you some thoughts that I have on the subject of online wheels and whether one can help you or not. Additionally, we will discuss how and why online wills may be deficient compared to a will created by you and it experienced probate or estate planning, attorney.

Online will creation websites- What do they do?

Websites like LegalZoom tout themselves as an alternative to hiring an attorney to draft your will. It’s pretty simple. The budgets that most people have do not always have the excess funds to hire an attorney to help you draft a will. As such, using an online will creation website can help you save money and still leave you at the end of the day with the product that you desire. Namely, a will that will clearly state your intentions for your property once you pass away. The theory that most people have when it comes to using an online will creation service is that if you can get the same result for less money why wouldn’t you go that route? 

in going with this alternative you would be passing on obtaining legal advice from an attorney in favor of Going with an online will creation service. The question is what will you find when you go to a LegalZoom website? Will you be able to get what you need out of the website and have a valid will created? Or will you find that the website is not as thorough as you would like and are instead left with a document that does not fit your needs at all? If you are going to spend money on the creation of will you need to get some benefit out of the money that was spent.

When you go to a website like LegalZoom and try to have I will create for you it would make sense to be able to have some basic knowledge of estate planning and probate issues in Texas. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have this level of knowledge and do not want to spend our free time learning about probate and estates law in Texas.

Does LegalZoom pay attention to the details?

As with any type of legal document details matter in a will. Getting the general aspects of will creation correct but not focusing on any of the details is a recipe for disaster. For this reason, you would need to be sure that the will create a website that you chose to use did focus on the details. If it does not, then the website is not worth using. Bear in mind, however, that you probably would not know if the website does get the details correct just by looking at it. Rather common someone like an attorney would need to make sure that the details are covered. At that point, he may as well just hire an attorney to draft the will for you if an attorney needs to be there to determine whether or not the website pays attention to details enough to be trusted.

Every once in a while probate laws will change in Texas. the state legislature meets every two years and theoretically, laws on probate could be updated that frequently. What does say, you need to make sure that the laws on probate that pertain to your life and estate planning are updated on the website. You do not want to put yourself in a situation where you draft a will based on outdated laws. before you start to say that you can always go back and draft a new will bear in mind that none of us know the moment that will mark our last here on earth. If we knew the moment in time that we were going to pass away then life itself will be quite different. But that said, no never snow the moment that will be our last period as such, we will not be able to accurately say exactly when we will need our final will buy.

If you draft a will based on laws that are not on the books right now then you are doing yourself a disservice. Entire sections of your will could contain instructions that are based on outdated law. This is a huge problem then would welcome the challenge to your wheels validity. Unless you have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Texas probate code then it would be wise to consult with an attorney to determine the current state of probate law in Texas so that you do not make a mistake when it comes to drafting the document.

Bear in mind that online world creation websites would not become your attorney

Receiving advice during the will creation process is a good thing. Receiving additional perspectives on estate planning is something we could all use from time to time. Certainly, if you are creating a will out of nothing then your ability to know the current state of the law in Texas will be essential. again, you want to avoid such a situation where you create a will that will not stand the test of time and is declared invalid by a probate court. This puts your entire family in a difficult position and should be avoided at all costs.

Even if you speak to an employee of one of these websites that does not mean you have received legal advice or that the employees of the website are your attorney. If you believe that you require the help of an experienced family law attorney then that is the direction you should go. Otherwise, be prepared to go without the assistance of an attorney. even going to a website that can provide you with basic assistance in the creation of will does not mean that you are receiving advice tailored to your situation as you would with an experienced attorney. Bear in mind that the law does not change from person to person but the advice in the application of that law should change. With that in mind, be aware of the shortcomings of these will creation websites at least in the regard to the point that they do not provide you with attorneys services.

You certainly run a risk by utilizing a will creation website rather than an attorney

Utilizing an estate planning or probate attorney to help you draft your will does not guarantee you anything. Please note that just because you utilized an attorney to draft a will does that mean that you will have guaranteed yourself that the will is valid and will be full-proof against challenges in probate court. However, what I can tell you is that the benefit of having an attorney is that you can receive a rundown of the current probate laws in Texas, have them applied to your circumstances and do so in an environment where you can ask questions and receive feedback on your ideas. 

Not only that, an attorney can help you find tuning ideas that you had come up with previously. Creating drafts of a will means that the first set of ideas or plans you had may not be best for you and your family. However, going over those ideas time and time again with an attorney can help you to identify weaknesses and ideas and put your family in a better position by receiving feedback. None of this is possible with a will-creation website. The best you can hope for is at the laws that are being applied to the will that has been created are currently inaccurate. They should not be a high bar to clear but we have already seen just how easy it would be 2 drafts a will based on outdated laws.

Ultimately, it isn’t you who has to pay the price four-wheel that is deficient or invalid. Your family would have to consider the consequences when it comes to a well that does not stand the test of time or hold up to a challenge by interested parties in a probate setting. Rather than being able to mourn your passing your family would then have to deal with any issues with your well being challenged in court. This can take up time and money during a season of life where they want to focus on everything associated with you and your passing rather than being associated with money issues.

Saving money is never a bad thing. However, saving money should not be your number one goal when it comes to creating a will. rather, you would want to leave your family with a document that handles your property and assets with care so that they can put their focus on remembering you fondly and attending to other matters associated with your passing. I have found that by working with an experienced state planning attorney you can best position your family to be able to avoid this stress and uncertainty that comes along with a challenge to your will. The only person who can help in this regard is you. No one else can draft your will for you. Taking responsibility for this is most certainly a part of the estate planning process. 

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan 

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post do not hesitate to dictate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed estate planning and probate law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas probate law as well as about how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a estate planning or probate case. Thank you for your interest in our law office and we hope that you will join us again tomorrow as we continue to share information that is relevant to estate planning and probate matters.