The Potential Pitfalls of Using an Online Will Maker
(March 26, 2020) In these times with most of the country being impacted by the COVID-19 virus, the thought of using an online will maker seems attractive. The attractive part is that most online sites permit you to fill in some blank area of the forms or select some options, print the document, sign it and then you may or may not have a valid Will.
Presumably, the program that you use walks you through several steps and questions so that in the end, the document you sign is something which hopefully qualifies as a valid Will in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The downsides include the chance that the document you prepared does not qualify as a Will. There is a Will middle ground, which is that you have prepared a document that qualifies as a Will, but causes more problems than it solves.
- How much do you or the programmers know about Federal and Pennsylvania tax laws?
- What do you and the programmers know about Pennsylvania law governing joint accounts, payable on death accounts or entireties property?
- Does your will impose taxes on the shares of individuals who you might have wanted to get their bequest tax-free?
- If you have minor children, will the program walk you through the necessary questions to address important issues such as who to name as guardians of the person and guardians of the estate?
- Will the program provide you with guidance on whether a trust is needed and how to set up the trust or any gift to a minor ends up in a guardian account?
- Does the program address all contingencies so that if your entire family dies in one crash the Will still includes beneficiaries in such a situation?
The ramifications of an improperly prepared Will could outweigh the ease and temporary peace of mind in having the document executed. A Will, along with other estate planning documents are important documents. Many times issues surrounding poorly prepared Wills do not arise until the Will has been offered to the Register of Wills for recording, and then it may be too late to correct the problems.
Timoney Knox is prepared to provide legal support to you in the preparation of proper estate planning documents at any time and especially during this COVID-19 virus crisis. If you do not have a Will or want a review of your existing estate plans we are ready to help.