A new tech company start up involving the actor, Ashton Kutcher, has set up a free Will drafting and funeral planning service on its website, Willing.com. I reviewed the Will drafting service and can say that it is not ready for prime time, assuming you care about what happens with your family after you are gone. Yes, the process is fairly easy and the terminology used in the Will forms attempts to use primarily common terminology and less legalese. But, these benefits only work if the final product accomplishes what is intended. Like most legal documents, it is important for them to not only be accurate as to the matters they attempt to cover but that they also cover all the issues that need to be covered.
In the case of the Willing.com Will forms, they have several flaws which could significantly increase the costs and hassles of Probate, which in GA with a well written and valid Will would otherwise be a fairly easy and low cost process. The Will forms also have wording problems that could cause post-death disputes if one or more beneficiaries are not living. Finally, its signing instructions and Self Proving Affidavit are either confusing or flawed, leading to the potential for even more hassles and costs in the Probate process.
In addition to Will provision flaws, the forms also fail to utilize trusts for young beneficiaries, rather they rely on the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, which is not only less beneficial and flexible, but also provides that all remaining assets pass outright to the beneficiaries when they turn age 21. Based on our experience, age 21 is too young to give a beneficiary any significant amount of assets. The risks are normally just too high that the inheritance will be imprudently wasted and, possibly worse, negatively affect their lives. How hard do you think a minor will want to study or work if they feel they may be wealthy at age 21?
Eventually, simple estate planning documents will be available not only at a low cost, but they will also be pretty decent as to their terms and as to how they work under your state’s laws. Of course, even when this time comes, for those that really care about what happens to their loved ones when they are gone, the assistance of a passionate, experienced estate planning attorney will still be invaluable.