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Online wills present possible estate planning risks

| May 9, 2019 | Estate Planning |

Yes, there’s something to be said for a Louisiana resident that makes the effort to actually make out a will. It’s better to actually have some type of document prepared than to have nothing at all. But a do-it-yourself approach to will prep, like what’s commonly available online, could result in some unexpected and potentially costly estate-planning mistakes.

It’s estimated that only 4 out of every 10 adults in the U.S. have wills or trusts, so DIY online wills and estate packages can serve a purpose. But there is the possibility of overlooking important documents. Some sites offer a will only for an appealing lower price, even though there are other estate-related tools that can be just as important, like a trust, a financial power of attorney, and an advance healthcare directive. Such documents are usually fill-in-the-blank, which can also be problematic if assistance is needed.

Some estate planning websites either have limited attorney access or a drop-down menu with a list of FAQs in lieu of direct access to an attorney. Others will only provide access to a lawyer if higher-priced packages are purchased. The big draw with DIY sites is the ability to quickly and affordably take care of estate matters. However, most online solutions are set up with the assumption that people know what they want. Yet there are unique family situations and other complexities that can’t typically be accounted for with a one-size-fits-all DIY solution.

One of the main advantages of working with an estate planning lawyer for anyone ready to discuss estate matters is avoiding possible issues with probate guidelines, which vary from one state to another. An attorney may also draft or recommended documents that are better suited to address unique goals and priorities. Lastly, a lawyer might periodically review completed estate documents in case changes or updates are necessary or desired.