Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

Online wills

Are online wills legit? I live in California and would like my wife to have my meager assets when I persish. Due to my natural frugality, the thought of knocking out a will for 20 bucks online is appealing, but not if it won't hold up to scrutiny. Thanks.

Asked on 2/20/09, 8:43 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Gregory Broiles Legacy Planning Law Group

Re: Online wills

You get what you pay for.

You can fix a toothache by pulling out your own tooth with a pair of pliers, too.

If you're going to do it yourself, I would take a look at the Nolo Press books - you can probably find one at the library for free.

I'm not sure I've seen a self-prepared or internet-prepared estate planning document yet that did what its creator thought it did.

I tried one of the Internet-based estate planning products - the company was founded by a California attorney who was on TV a lot a decade or so ago and the website claims that their documents, which are not delivered immediately, are reviewed by someone competent to make sure you're doing something reasonable. The website cheerfully let me create an asset disposition plan that's both legally indefensible and practically ridiculous, and the "review process" let it sail right through. They were pretty happy to take my $300 for an estate plan that would've failed to do what I described and probably would have generated years of unpleasant litigation.

I think you'd do better paying a good estate planning attorney for an hour of their time to explain how property passes at death and how to arrange things so that your wife will inherit, assuming she lives longer than you do. Let the attorney tell you if you need a will or a trust or if your goals can be achieved some other way. A big part of the problem with do-it-yourself planning is that the do-it-yourselfer has no idea when to use a particular strategy or tool, and when not to.

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Answered on 2/21/09, 2:44 am
Michael Stone Law Offices of Michael B. Stone Toll Free 1-855-USE-MIKE

Re: Online wills

I have no idea what an "online will" is, but you get what you pay for.

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Answered on 2/20/09, 8:47 pm
Michele Cusack Pollak & Cusack

Re: Online wills

Some on-line forms may not comply with California law, but use the California Statutory Will Form:

don't forget you need two witnesses

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Answered on 2/20/09, 9:41 pm

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