Risks of On-Line Wills & Trusts?
First are content errors. This includes boilerplate terminology that is inappropriate or inconsistent with other provisions. And in this category are certainly missed opportunities that reflect that fact that the programs can’t ask you questions and give thoughtful suggestions for solutions. Pretty much all of their products are one-size-fits-all.
Second are technical glitches. These primarily relate to the way the Will or Trust is signed, witnessed, and notarized.
In Idaho, a Will can be handwritten and still be valid. But that means that the entire document has to be written by the person who is making the Will. It can’t be handwritten by another person. It can’t be set up on a computer and then simply signed.
And, if the Will is not 100% handwritten, then other formalities are required. Two witnesses must actually watch the person who made the Will sign it. One witness or no witnesses will cause the Will to be illegal.
If the Will is not handwritten by the person making the Will, it is also the best practice to have a Notary Public present when the Will is signed and witnessed. The Notary can then notarize the signature of the person making the Will and the signatures of the two witnesses. This is the best practice because it results in what the lawyers and the courts call a “self-proven” Will – the best kind.
In our office over the years, we’ve found that roughly half of the Wills that have been the result of a “do-it-yourself” project have had fatal errors.
But when a person is deciding who will receive all of the property, accounts, and possessions of that person when he or she passes away, it is an unfortunate frugality that risks all of that accumulated wealth to save a few hundred dollars in attorneys fees.