If you want to create a will online, the process is fairly straightforward–and it should stand up in most states. Here’s what you need to know.
Table of Contents:
Elements of a Will
First of all, understand the basic elements of a will. Any program or company you use to create a will online should get enough information from you to create a will that is generally accepted.
The introduction is the first part of the will, which is labeled the “Last Will and Testament.” It should have identifying information so that it’s clear it’s your own will. This information includes:
- Full name
- Maybe even your Social Security number
Additionally, the introduction should state that you’re over the age of 18 and in a fit mental state to make your will, and that you aren’t under duress. The introduction should also be clear about the current date, and that all previous wills are revoked.
This is a paragraph that most online will creation services generate for you.
You need to figure out who you trust to carry out the directions you give in your will. The person should be someone you trust, as well as someone who’s willing to accept the responsibility. You should speak with your potential executor before naming them in your will. Make sure they agree. Once that’s done, you can use the information to designate the executor.
It’s possible for someone to be both an executor and an heir. Your heirs are those who should benefit from your estate. Your life partner and children are most likely named as heirs, but you can also choose to name charities or others that you want to receive some of your assets. Be sure to have the identifying information associated with your heirs so they can be properly taken care of.
Figure out who you want to take care of any dependents. If you have children under the age of 18, or if you have a special needs child, you’ll need to find someone willing to take care of them for several years. Many people are now including their pets in this as well. When you don’t have a designated guardian, the state appoints one for you.
Divide Your Assets
This is the part of the will everyone thinks about.
First, realize that if you have assets with a beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy or retirement account, those items will go to the beneficiary, regardless of what’s in your will.
Next, list out all your property, including your bank and investing accounts, real estate holdings and other valuables. You can assign a general percentage of your assets to each heir, such as stipulating what goes to your life partner, and then how to divide the rest among your children.
This is also the time where you can make specific bequests of property. Maybe you specifically want to give your record collection to your cousin, or see that each of your children gets a particular heirloom.
Sign the Will
Finally, you need to sign the will. In some cases, you’ll need a notary to witness the signature. You might also need witnesses, usually two or three, to sign it as well–and possibly in front of a notary. Not following the requirements of your state can void the will.
Don’t Forget Other Documents
Making sure your wishes are taken care of isn’t just about the will. Other documents, like Power of Attorney and healthcare directives, should also be considered. Most websites can help you with these documents when you create a will. Find out if you can get help with a packet of estate planning documents, based on your situation and needs.
Where to Create a Will Online
There are several places to create a will online. With these websites, you enter your basic information and a will is generated on your behalf. These sites take you step-by-step through the process. Look for a site that covers your state laws, and can give you explicit directions about how to have it signed and notarized.
Some of the best places to go when you’re creating a will online include the following websites:
Trust and Will
In addition to helping you put together a will, you can also get help with a trust, if that’s more appropriate for your situation. With Trust and Will, you can get basic help and information, as well as maintain access to your planning documents and update them as needed.
Read More: Trust & Will Review
This is one of the oldest online sites for handling simple legal documents. You can create an estate plan, which includes a will and health care directive information. Additionally, Legal Zoom also offers trust options designed to help you pass on your assets.
You can get access to a number of free templates and helpful information about creating a Last Will and Testament. Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a personalized document, as well as send it to different parties for e-signing. Additionally, there are attorneys on call to help you through the process.
Who Should Create an Online Will?
For the most part, it makes the most sense to create an online will when your needs are relatively simple. While these documents can be personalized to a certain degree, they are also often templated. Additionally, they are often aimed at those who have straightforward needs.
In some cases, if your estate planning requires more than a will or a simple trust, it can make more sense to sit down with a knowledgeable attorney. While you can get help with business succession planning online, and get advice on a number of points, the reality is that if you have a complicated situation, you might need more hands-on help.
Before you decide on where to create an online will, think about your needs and figure out what site is most likely to offer the specific services you require. Even if your assets are relatively modest, a trust might make sense, in addition to a will, because it allows you to pass your assets along without the need for the state to be heavily involved.
Everyone needs basic estate planning documents. Even if you only have a will made, that’s a big step toward making sure you’re covered and that your heirs are taken care of. Don’t forget to consider other estate planning documents as well. You might need a healthcare directive or a Power of Attorney. And if you have dependent children or pets, you don’t want to forget them.
For most people, it’s enough to pay a simple, reasonable fee to create a will online. If you just need to create guidelines for your heirs and your assets, an online estate planning process can be an affordable way to prepare the necessary documents.