Landmines in Your On-Line Will
Problems that arise from Last Will and Testaments created on-line tend to fall into three main categories.
The first category consists of problems inherent in the on-size-fits-all approach of on-line documents. Such products typically offer a relatively small number of alternatives. And usually, the options and alternatives are not explained adequately.
A person’s circumstances, assets, and family members, on the other hand, will usually need a nuanced approach to the balancing of these issues. But nuance is not the strong suit of on-line programming.
The second category of potential problems arises from the surprisingly technical requirements that must be met as the Will is actually being signed. Veering off the narrow path can render a Will invalid.
So, it is critical that the Will be signed by two witnesses who actually saw the person sign his own Will. And the signatures of all three must be notarized by a notary who was also present when the Will was signed.
The absence of any witnesses, or the use of only a single witness, can destroy the validity of the Will. The absence of a notary, though not necessarily destroying the validity of the Will, may make the probate process more difficult as witnesses may need to be tracked down to confirm by affidavit that they witnessed the Will.
Finally, in several instances, we have reviewed Wills that included inconsistent provisions that contradicted each other. This was the outcome when the person making the Will failed to study the document that was generated on-line carefully.
In the end, the risks inherent in the use of on-line documents are not worth the limited financial savings.