You know it’s time to get a will in place. There are too many unpredictable things happening in the world. Or maybe you’re planning to take a cruise or a long road trip, and you want to be sure your intentions for who gets your assets are clearly codified in case something happens.
You’ve seen a lot of “do-it-yourself” options for creating a simple will online. They seem thorough, and you can get one specific to Virginia. It seems like it should meet your needs. You’ve got a house, a car, some bank accounts, a retirement plan and a few family heirlooms. Those seem simple enough to divide among your grown kids, your siblings or your favorite charities. Why not just create your own will using an online program?
There’s a lot of room for misinterpretation and error
Even if you use a reputable online will company, it’s easy to create ambiguity. You may be very clear about your wishes, but will those reading it be? Maybe you choose to leave all your assets to your favorite cancer organization. However, you don’t get the name quite right. The assets could go to the wrong place or a court may have to try to determine what you meant.
Maybe you decide to leave your car to your best friend, but you use their maiden name rather than their new married name. You may forget about assets, like those savings bonds and jewelry sitting in your safe deposit box. These are just a few examples.
A will isn’t the only document you need
Estate planning isn’t just about detailing what will happen to your belongings after you die. It’s about planning for incapacitation. Say you survive that cruise, but you slip in water on the lido deck, hit your head and end up in a coma.
That kind of scenario and many others are why it’s wise to have an advance directive for health care and give a trusted person power of attorney (POA) over your medical and financial affairs if you become incapacitated.
An online will, if completed correctly, is probably better than nothing. However, you owe it to yourself and those you care about to seek legal guidance to make sure that you have the appropriate documents in place and that they’re thoroughly and properly completed.