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Is Using An Online Will Maker Safe?

Demand for legitimate online will makers is soaring. Want to know why?! During the global COVID-19 pandemic quite a few different trends emerged. Some were surprising like the rise of Tik-Tok or the sudden appetite for banana bread, whereas others, like the mania for Uber Eats, were kind of inevitable..

One other interesting trend though was the increase in Americans making their wills. In this post we are going to look at the phenomena of online wills. We will examine how exactly they work, and what the cost is.

Where There’s A Will There’s A Way

Coming to terms with the idea of one’s own demise is not easy. Whilst pretty much every religion and philosophy that ever existed counsels constant awareness of mortality, the reality is that we like to try to pretend that we will live forever. Seriously, bringing up the subject of death is a sure fire way to kill a dinner party and it remains a semi-taboo subject.

This is probably why so many of us have not made our wills. Yep, an estimated 68% of Americans have NOT made any form of will.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, this long established trend did show signs of bucking and Will makers reported a significant rise in the numbers of customers seeking out their services. This is of course understandable. Mortality rates did increase during the pandemic and the media’s relentless barrage of doom clearly focused the minds of a lot of their viewers.

What Even Is a Will?

A Last Will and Testament is quite simply a legally valid document that sets out the final wishes of a deceased person. A Will can contain instructions regarding funeral ceremonies and last rites, but they are more commonly (and more importantly) used to set out how the deceased person’s estate will be handled. This includes stating who will be responsible for administering the estate, and who will inherit various assets or pieces of property.

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If a person dies without leaving a will they are said to have died “intestate” and their estate will be dealt with in accordance with local statutory laws. This often means the nearest next of kin inheriting absolutely everything – whether that next of kin is a much loved son, an estranged, unfaithful wife or a 3rd cousin who the deceased never even met is immaterial here – the law is the law.

If a person dies intestate, there is also a possibility that their relatives and loved ones will end up taking legal action against one another to seize control of the estate and more often than not, the associated lawyers fees will eat up the value of the estate.

Therefore, as you can see, making a will is very importar indeed.

Making A Will

Traditionally, Will Making was handled by lawyers (whether a dedicated estate lawyer or the family lawyer) and as such, could prove expensive. The median fee for Will making via a lawyer ranges from $300 -$1000 which can simply prove too expensive for a lot of people. Consequently, a lot of Americans either did not make wills, or else they made a DIY will at home without receiving any kind of advice or guidance.

Whilst DIY wills are legally valid, there are dangers in this approach. Firstly, without adequate guidance a lot of delicate matters are simply overlooked (ie, who gets the dog). There is also a danger that DIY will, will get lost or it could even be maliciously destroyed by a spurned relative. Finally, another danger is that DIY will’s are especially vulnerable to legal challenges by squabbling siblings.

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Online Will Makers

Online will makers are kind of a hybrid between using a lawyer, and making a DIY will. Users of online will makers simply access the services website, download the document template and fill it in. Some online will making sites also allow users to “file” the completed will meaning it is safe and secure in their archive.

Some commentators have questioned the efficacy of using online will makers. However, most critics of the practice are really just estate lawyers unhappy that somebody is taking their custom! The legitimate online will makers offer a safe and legitimate service The documents they help to create are just as legally binding as those drafted by a lawyer. Millions of Americans have used the service successfully.

Different online makers operate different business models. Some charge per document whereas others are a subscription service. In terms of costs. DoYourOwnWill offers a free service, US Will makers packages start at $19 and NOLO charge $299 for the full will making service.

Final Thoughts

Meditating upon death is never easy or pleasant but every now and then, it needs to be done. Making a will is vitally important and as you have seen, it can now be done from your own home for a reasonable price. Therefore, there is no excuse for delaying the making of your will any longer.