LegalDoom: Pitfalls Of Using Online Will Templates

I attended a conference last week where someone asked me the dreaded "can't I just go online and make my own will?" question. Short answer: technically, yes. Longer answer: it's probably a bad idea. We wrote this article addressing this question last year, but it's still relevant so we are sharing it again!


In the days of one click online “prime” shopping, next day delivery services, “freaky fast” food delivery options, in-store pickup, and online will preparation options – it’s easy to wonder whether it’s worth the time to slow down and consult an attorney for your estate planning needs.

Fortunately and unfortunately, making decisions that will impact your loved ones takes more care, effort, and thoughtful planning than making an online purchase or ordering a delivery pizza (at least we assume this is true for most of our readers – pizza topping decisions can admittedly get a little tricky at times). Additionally, more often than not – seeking out the advice of an attorney saves time, money, and stress in the long run. Especially in the event that your online will is deemed invalid.

One of the major problems with online will form websites is the fact that when legal inconsistencies or errors present themselves, it may be too late to remedy the error – the person who used the forms to create their documents may have already passed away or become incompetent. In that case, if the document is unclear or invalid, the original intentions of the testator may be lost forever.

Even the disclaimer on the website states that – “[a]t no time do we review your answers for legal sufficiency, draw legal conclusions, provide legal advice or apply the law to the facts of your particular situation. LegalZoom and its services are not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.” Furthermore, the website goes on to state that: “the legal information on this site is not legal advice and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete or up-to-date.”

At Clayton and Clayton we care about you – we want to know your needs and the needs of your family and we will review relevant laws with you that apply to your individual situation. When you work with us you get two lawyers on your side who are completely devoted to taking the time to apply a careful and directed approach to your estate plan.

We understand that you are busy – so if you can’t find the time to come to us, feel free to ask about our Skype/FaceTime or mobile service options - we often make house calls if that's your preference, we have even been known to host clients at our own dining room table! When it comes to your estate planning needs, our priority is working with you and attending to your personal requirements so that we can make sure that you have valid safeguards in place in the event that you need them.

Do you have a plan in place for who should step in to fill your shoes if you can’t make your own financial and medical decisions? Are all of the appropriate legal safeguards in place so that the right people will care for your children if you can’t care for them?

Let us help you find peace of mind when considering the tough questions.

The sooner you have a solid plan in place, the sooner you can get back to enjoying your online shopping experiences instead of stressing about how to make life altering decisions without legal assistance!

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