Are Will Forms Printed from the Internet a Good Idea?

I had someone call me this last week to tell me that she and her husband were interested in preparing new Wills.  They had prepared Wills over 30 years ago before their first child was born, but they never updated their Wills after any of their 3 children were born.  Now that all of the children are young adults, they were finally getting around to addressing their outdated documents.  In the course of the conversation, the client asked me the question, “If I were to just go online and create a Will, would it be as good as what you can do for me?”  While this question amuses me, it is not the first time I have been asked the same question. 

The requirements for a Will differ by state.  For instance, Texas law requires that a typed Will be signed by two witnesses.  Some states only require one witness, while other states require 3 witnesses.  Likewise, Texas is a community property state while most other states in the US are “common law property” states, which means that those states do not recognize the concept of community property.  These are just two examples of many that differ between states when it comes to preparing Wills. 

Many online Will document preparation sites are not state-specific.  Likewise, no online Will site can properly advise you regarding the effects of community property on your Will.  Likewise, with the dramatic increase in “blended” families in the last 20 years, an online Will site cannot advise you on the best way to address the death of one spouse who has children from a prior marriage. 

The short answer to my client’s question: “No, preparing a Will online is not as good as what I can do for you.”  Ford + Bergner LLP has attorneys who are board certified in Estate Planning and Probate.  We are experienced in advising clients through the many issues that exist in preparing Wills.  If you are looking to prepare a new Will, please contact Ford + Bergner LLP to discuss your planning.