Planning your estate is not a pleasant discussion for any person, however, it is a necessary one. With COVID-19 affecting so many populations across the globe, many individuals are frantically trying to write up will documents while trying to bequeath assets to their friends, families, loved ones or charities. In fact, over the past two weeks, online will writing services have seen an increase in users – perhaps because of their convenience and ability to maintain social distancing regulations during this time. Additionally, there has recently been a law passed permitting the electronic signing of will documents, which also adheres to isolation regulations.
While it is always a good time to plan what should happen to your possessions in the event of your passing, it is incredibly important to follow the correct legal process in doing so. If you are inclined to create a will, make sure you do not rush the process as you may make mistakes.
There are various formats you can use to write a will including DIY, online will writing services and using a lawyer – each suited to different needs and budgets and each with their own set of pros and cons. USA Will Guru has compiled a handy guide to help you decide which will writing option is best for you.
DIY will writing
It is relatively simple to find a template if you choose to write your own will, however, it is not necessarily the best option if you want an error-free document. Theoretically, you could handwrite your last wishes on a piece of paper and sign it correctly along with a witness. This should be legally binding; however, it does not mean it is a good idea. The trouble with a DIY will is if you use incorrect wording, it could mean your instructions are not followed after your death. It may even render your will document invalid. If you do choose to write your own will, be sure to use a template that provides clear instructions for you to follow, including legal terms required.
In general, you should only consider writing your own will if your wishes are simple and do not require any external advice or support. For example, you can construct a document quite easily if you are married and wish to leave all your assets to your partner or children.
Online will writing services
This service is becoming more popular during the era of social distancing. If you are on a bit of a budget, you can opt to use an online will writing service. This option is best if you understand the basics of creating a will but want some advice, and if your wishes are relatively straightforward. Make sure the first thing you do is check if the service is legitimate, credible and accredited, otherwise you may run into legal trouble if there are errors. With an online will writing service, you simply visit the website and answer questions about your assets and what you would like to do with them when you die. The service then sends you a draft of the document via email or post for both you and your witnesses to sign – this will make it legally binding if done correctly.
As online wills become increasingly popular due to the accessibility of services, a quick Google search will inform you of the dangers. Since a majority are executed without the oversight from an attorney, a large number might not be in compliance with legal will formalities. Take note that will writers are not regulated in the same manner as lawyers, therefore if there are any errors, you are not protected legally. These services may not be able to store your will safely or securely if you so wish.
Using a lawyer
Lawyers are trained in the field of will writing, which is why this is the most expensive option if you choose to utilize a lawyer’s service. If you have a complex estate, using a lawyer will give you the most peace of mind. You should consider using a lawyer if your estate may be liable to pay tax; if you want to protect someone after your death (like a disabled family member); or if you simply want to discuss your options with a professional.
If you have numerous assets and dependents, you are likely to have many beneficiaries as well. An attorney can help guide you through the process and assist in the correct legal wording of your last will document to avoid mistakes. You will then have the full benefit of a correct, error-free will. Note that if you decide to make any changes to your will, this means another consultation with a lawyer.
‘Planning your estate is an important concept if you do not wish for state laws to dictate how your assets are divided amongst your loved ones,’ Says a spokesperson for USA Will Guru. ‘Writing a will does not have to be a complicated process, however, it is important to select an option that fits your wishes and assets.’