Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dangers of "Write your Own Will" Software

We have all seen the ads for websites and software that offer to help you write your own "simple will" for a low flat rate. A tough economy has pushed many to use these types of programs to draft their own important legal documents, rather than using an experienced legal professional. Consumer Reports recently published a report where they test 3 software products claiming to help you write your own will. What they found was that all of the three products tested had major issues, and that none are very likely to meet your individual needs. Some of the major areas of concern included:

  1. They had outdated information
  2. They don't allow for sufficient customization, and rarely refer to specific state estate law in any detail
  3. They were not flexible in certain areas, with some arbitrary age or time limits
  4. They were too flexible in other areas, allowing you to completely contradict your will after it's completion
  5. They left out many popular options for estate plans like special-needs trusts, pet trusts, or domestic partnerships
  6. They didn't address tax issues
The biggest concern for most seems to be that as a layman you can't be sure what is missing in the finished product; a scary proposition in such an important document. As the New York Times said in their article finding many of the same pitfalls, you "don't know what you don't know." So, while it may seem these types of programs are an inexpensive alternative to having a lawyer draft your estate planning documents, you should think twice before putting such an important aspect of your family's financial planning in the hands of these programs, leaving you to simply hope that the finished product covers all you wanted it to. 

Our office is happy to offer free estate planning consultations, where a trained and experienced estate planning attorney will sit with you to discuss your specific needs and ensure that you have an estate plan that does exactly what you want it to do. If you're considering drafting your own estate plan, or if you already have drafted an estate plan and you would like our attorneys to review it, please contact our office today and set up your consultation. 

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