Pros and Cons of Preparing a Will Online

By Christine Funk, J.D.

Pros and Cons of Preparing a Will Online

By Christine Funk, J.D.

As with almost any endeavor, there are both advantages and disadvantages of writing a will online. Whether the pros outweigh the cons is dependent on your facts and circumstances. Attorneys may charge a flat fee, or by the hour, just to write a simple document, so preparing will document online is often cheaper on the front end.

Man resting chin on hand using laptop

However, if done incorrectly, it may actually cost significantly more. The cost may fall to you personally if you realize the error and seek to fix it. More likely, though, the cost will be passed on to your heirs, as they seek to sort out the legal missteps that may have occurred.

Convenience of Writing a Will Online

Writing a will online is unquestionably more convenient. You can create it on your schedule, day or night. You have the luxury of collecting the documents at your leisure and the flexibility to add information as you think of it. Attorneys, on the other hand, generally keep regular office hours. They typically expect you to bring all your documents with you to a single office visit. If you realize later you have left something out, you may have to pay your lawyer an additional fee.

Because online services are specifically geared towards "do-it-yourselfers," they tend to use language that is easier to understand. By answering a few yes/no type questions, an online will service guides people towards topics and choices that match their particular situation.

However, some people have more complicated estates than others. While an online program may suit a person who simply seeks to leave all their possessions to their adult child, a person who has a more complicated situation, such as children from several relationships, a need for a trust to care for an impaired adult child, estates that exceed the estate tax minimum, or other complications, may find more comfort in hiring an attorney to write it.

Accountability When Writing a Will Online

Users will fill out answers to a series of questions designed to elicit certain responses. Problems can occur, though, especially when a person doesn't understand a particular question or fails to provide a complete answer.

For example, if a person is dealing with a lawyer and they are asked, "What do you want to leave to your adult son, John?" and the person replies, "Butter," the lawyer will follow up with some clarifying questions. An online resource, on the other hand, may not have the same ability to recognize there may have been a breakdown in communication somewhere. Instead, the program may duly record "butter" as the intended asset you wish to leave your son John.

If you are interested in writing a will online, it is a good idea to do some research beforehand to ensure that it is the most appropriate decision for you. As with most online products and services, the quality of the product or service varies greatly.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.