The internet has revolutionized multiple industries. Information, services and even physical goods are often only a click away. Unfortunately, the internet can’t do every industry justice.
Although some people are quick to extol the benefits of digital estate planning, the way that people make their last wills online is often unsafe and highly problematic. There are a multitude of issues that can a fact last wills and estate plans created electronically, but the three below should give anyone pause.
1. Using fill-in-the-blank document doesn’t protect a person very much
An estate plan is only as good as the documents it includes. Create an estate plan using generic paperwork downloaded off of some random website means that there could be all kinds of issues with the forms.
From not being applicable in your state to containing language that you don’t understand, such documents can do more harm than good. Additionally, they can be very difficult to customize for unique estate planning needs, like complex family circumstances or high-value assets.
2. Making an estate plan online leaves it open to challenges
It is altogether too common for people with unreasonable expectations to reduce other people’s inheritances by unnecessarily litigating an estate.
Creating an estate plan online, especially using basic documents that you simply sign yourself, will mean that there are no witnesses available to certify your testamentary capacity at the time of signing. It also means there won’t be a lawyer or notary there to validate your identity and affirm the documents in court. Digital last wills created and signed without witnesses may be more vulnerable to challenges.
3. Digital estate planning open the door to many kinds of fraud
Whether you input your personal information into a website that steals people’s private data for criminal purposes or other people find a way to duplicate your digital documents and change them in their own favor, electronic estate planning create many opportunities for fraudulent activity.
Physical documents signed in the presence of someone else and carefully tailored to someone’s specific need will almost always offer better protection then generic documents and an unwitnessed signing.
An estate plan that won’t hold up under scrutiny or that others could easily subvert through fraud does little to protect your legacy. Unless you understand the risks, you can’t make an informed decision about what steps to take when planning your estate.