Should You Create Your Own Estate Plan with Online Resources?

It can be tempting to use online resources to create an estate plan – the resources come at a low cost (or at no cost at all), and they offer an easy, seemingly efficient way to get your plan together. As a group of Houston estate planning attorneys, we often tell our clients that these online plans work until they don’t work. While creating an estate plan online might end up being legally valid, there are also risks in these estate plans that might cause obstacles in the future for your loved ones.

Risks in Online Estate Planning

There are three major deficiencies that we often see in online estate plans. First, the plan might not be valid. In Texas, for a will to be above board, it needs to be a written, properly executed, self-proving document. If the will is typed, it must be signed by two witnesses who saw the will’s writer sign the documents. Without these requirements, the estate planning documents might not be able to go through probate.

Secondly, the will might not truly reflect the wishes of its writer. For example, if you say in your will that you would like to pass your real property to your children, the court will want to know if the property is community property or separate property. If it’s community property, does the co-owner know about your will’s provisions? Is it even possible to pass your share of the property onto your children, or does your contract with your co-owner say otherwise? How will the property be passed onto your children? It is important to address questions like this in your estate planning documents, and without these provisions, you run the risk of failing to accurately capture your wishes in the documents.

Lastly, the will might be difficult to probate. The probate court needs to be able to interpret the will and determine that it is legally valid. If, at any point in the process, the court decides there are reasons to doubt the veracity of the documents, your beneficiaries will run into trouble. Online wills run a greater risk of falling short in some of the probate court’s key requirements.

Do You Need a Houston Estate Planning Attorney in Your Corner?

Ultimately, we always recommend that individuals looking to make an estate plan speak with a Houston estate planning attorney. While online wills can end up working out fine in the end, they do also carry risks. In order to eliminate these risks, you should work with an attorney that can help make sure you and your loved ones are set up for success in the future.
At McCulloch & Miller, looking out for our clients’ best interests is our specialty. We have been in the estate planning business for over 30 years, and we would be honored to guide you through the process. If you would like to set up a consultation with one of our Houston estate planning attorneys, call us today at 713-936-9073. You can also fill out our online form to tell us about yourself and have a member of our team contact you as soon as possible.

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