The Dangers of Online Estate Planning

Today, the world-wide-library puts information at our fingertips in a moment.  Access to an unlimited amount of information is quite alluring.  When it comes to Estate planning, several web services claim that consumers can complete a will or a trust online in minutes.  Are these claims correct and what happens when problems arise?

Online Estate planning seems like an enticing bargain at the outset.  But it may be pennywise and pound foolish.  They offer legal documents at a cheap price, or even free, without knowing or understanding your family’s unique issues and concerns.

A one-size-fits-all planning approach may appear to save a buck, but keep in mind you are not told what happens when online legal documents cause problems. Worse, if you do not truly understand the decisions going into this legal instrument, you may later be unable to avoid major pitfalls and errors.  Estate planning should work correctly when needed most—if or when incapacity strikes and at death.

If you use an online service, make sure that you understand not only that a legal document is being created, but how and why it will work as intended

What Should Concern Me?

  • State laws, tax laws, and federal laws all apply to an estate plan.
    Will an online estate plan help to legally avoid, minimize, or form a plan that takes into consideration any tax laws?
  • Children get divorced, have creditor problems and make bad decisions.
    Will an online estate plan maximize asset protection to protect an inheritance from divorcing spouses or creditors?
  • Children in blended families can accidentally get disinherited.
    Will an online estate plan disinherit children from a first marriage?
  • Beneficiaries have problems.
    Will an online estate plan help or hurt a child with an addiction problem?
  • Special needs beneficiaries can lose government benefits if money is inherited outright.  Will an online estate plan protect government benefits? 
  • You can keep your estate out of probate court if you wish. 

Will an online estate plan avoid probate? 

These are just a few examples of the risks in estate planning that an online service may not address.  Online planning can lead to a legal disaster.  With an estate planning lawyer, these and other issues can be addressed correctly in an estate plan designed specifically for you and your family.  At Anderson & Jahde, PC we can help you craft that plan.

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