Every adult should make a plan to provide for their loved ones after they pass away. Online do-it-yourself wills promise a time-saving and hassle-free option for documenting your final wishes.
But you should not assume that an online will meets Texas legal standards for an enforceable will.
At Wood Edwards LLP, we offer flat-fee services with all the advantages of online estate-planning options, including online consultations, online payments, and online supervision of will executions. We can help you plan your estate from the comfort of your home while providing the personalized attention you deserve.
We enjoy getting to know our estate-planning clients, their families, and their goals. We are here as your needs change to help you with updates to your estate-planning documents as well.
The Downside of Online Wills in Texas
Online do-it-yourself wills carry risk. It’s not always obvious whether a form is specific to Texas. The form may not address specific needs you have that do not occur to you. Also, online wills still have to be executed – the process of signing the will before witnesses. Texas law has specific requirements for this process.
If these requirements are not met, your will may not be enforceable. If your will is not enforceable, your property will be distributed according to Texas law for people who don’t have wills, known as Texas intestate succession law. Your property might wind up going to people you did not intend or expect to receive it.
When you work with a Texas attorney who talks with you to understand your needs, prepares your will, and supervises its execution, it is much more likely that your final wishes will be carried out the way you intend.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Texas Estate-Planning Attorney?
Many people use online do-it-yourself wills because they believe an attorney is out of their price range. However, a mistake in your online will can result in increased legal costs in probate court and unintended results. If you hire a lawyer to draft your will and handle your estate planning, they can:
- Ensure that you meet all the legal requirements for creating a valid, enforceable will in Texas;
- Help you save money in the long run by preventing costly mistakes;
- Respond personally to your questions and concerns;
- Spot issues that you have not thought of, and offer you solutions you would not have considered; and
- Get to know you and ask important questions about your family and your wishes to create an estate plan that’s just right for you.
While saving money using an online do-it-yourself will or trust may be tempting, doing so could cost your family later. If you use an online will and the will isn’t drafted or executed properly, your estate could get tied up in probate court while the court decides who gets your property. The additional time in probate court could result in additional legal expenses to your family while they navigate this process. You can consider the cost of an estate planning lawyer as an investment in your family’s future and peace of mind.
What Happens with My Will when I Die?
When someone with a will dies, the executor they name in their will files a request with the probate court to (1) accept the will as being valid; and (2) to issue the executor a legal document called letters testamentary showing that the executor has authority to carry out the terms of the will. The executor has to show that the will complies with Texas law.
A valid will in Texas must be in writing, signed by the person making the will, and signed by two witnesses in the presence of the person making the will. A will prepared by a Texas attorney will typically come with what’s called a Self-Proving Affidavit. A Self-Proving Affidavit is an affidavit signed by the person making the will and the witnesses stating that the will was executed in compliance with Texas law. Without a Self-Proving Affidavit, the witnesses must appear in the probate court to provide evidence that the will is valid.
Online Estate Planning: Get the Best of Both Worlds with Wood Edwards
At Wood Edwards LLP, we combine the convenience of online estate planning with the advantages of having your estate plan prepared by a Texas attorney. We can meet with you online, we can accept payments online, and we can supervise the execution of your will online. We value building personal relationships with our clients and will take the time to understand your estate planning goals.
Don’t leave your future to chance. Let us help you plan for the unknown and ensure that your family is cared for after you’re gone the way you intend. You can contact us online or by phone to schedule a consultation.