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The hidden cost of online wills

Putting together a will is about more than just determining where assets will go in the future. Drafting a will generally leads to a discussion about these assets. The discussion will likely include questions about your assets and what you expect to have in the future. But the discussion could take a more hopeful turn and lead to questions about what you want out of life.

The process can evolve into a life planning discussion.

Starting this discussion is never easy. It can be tempting to grab a fill-in-the blank document off the internet, check "make a will" off your to-do list and avoid the discussion completely. Although this may seem like a cheap and easy option, there are hidden costs. Two examples include:

  • These documents impact more than just your estate. If you are putting together a true estate plan, not just a will, you will also have a power of attorney, health care directive and potentially a trust. Power of attorney documents and health care directives guide those you designate to make decisions on your behalf while you are still alive. These documents could be needed if you are unconscious due to a car accident or fighting a disease. It is important to draft these documents to your wishes.
  • Where you live matters. Estate planning is not universal. You cannot just use a basic form and have it applied anywhere. State laws and cases impact these documents. You could use an online form thinking it will serve your needs, only to have you family battling it out in court because the document did not meet your state's requirements.

A failure to address these considerations can lead to additional costs and headaches. You can reduce this risk by having the discussion. Meet with a legal professional to draft an estate plan that is more likely to meet your needs.

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