Can’t I just Do My Will Online for $200?
Updated: May 29
This may get me in trouble with my fellow lawyers, but I believe that many of those online sites where you can do your will for $200 really will result in a legally binding document without errors. They might even “throw in” your power of attorney and healthcare directive. So, why wouldn’t I recommend that route? It’s a pretty simple answer – because your estate plan isn’t merely about having documents “that work.”
To draft a good estate plan, an attorney must spend time getting to know you, your family and your financial goals. A good estate plan is tailored to each individual, something you won’t get from a website. Your estate planning attorney’s job is to help you make your choices. It’s not enough to just ask you questions.
Your attorney should be guiding you through your decision-making. Should you set up a trust for your children? Are there any charities that should receive a gift? How do you decide who should take care of minor children and whether someone different should be responsible for the money that would pass to them? If you have two children who are a starving artist and a doctor, how should you divide your assets? What do you do about your prized baseball card collection or your jewelry? There truly are a lot of questions to ensure that you are comfortable with your estate plan.
But, it’s not just your estate planning attorney’s job to help you make these incredibly personal decisions. Their job is to walk you through you through all the legal “mumbo jumbo” in your documents so that you understand and are comfortable with your plan. Your attorney should also be there to ensure that you execute your documents properly. Estate planning documents need to be signed in front of a notary and two witnesses, and your attorney can help make sure this occurs.
An estate plan is your opportunity to shape your family’s future for long after you have passed. By leaving this to a formulaic fill-in-the blank website, you are not doing yourself or your descendants any favors.
Andy Gavrin, Esq. is an estate planning attorney. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Wharton School of Business, and Cornell University, he lives in Villanova with his three daughters, and serves as Vice President of the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners. Contact him about your estate plan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 484.416.5740. The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. Note that information may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.