• Shawna Murray, Attorney

Low-Cost Online Will-Maker Is Less of a Value Than You Might Think

Robo-Will Makers and other website sites offering low-cost alternatives provide "one size fits all" solutions that can end up costing your heirs more than you would pay for making an estate plan with an attorney.

Recently, I ran across a website that promises a low-cost alternative to hiring an attorney “in just a few clicks.” This website promises that the documents it produces in about 15 minutes are valid in every state and that they are all you need to be prepared for solving the problem of who is going to be taking care of your children and distributing your property when you pass away. Seriously!? Just 15 minutes? As a mother, I have spent more time deciding which pair of shoes to buy for my sons than it would take to create this “Last Will and Testament.” How could I possibly have peace of mind after spending less than 15 minutes deciding their future life without me? 

Furthermore, this Will-maker indicated, after a few clicks, that it would generate an affordable Will for me, even though I live in California. Well, that might be acceptable if I do not have many assets. Any estate worth more than $150,000 has to be probated in California. Probate in California is not inexpensive. If I left any property that must be probated, then my heirs will end up with less money and it could take a year, maybe more, for them to get it. Probate is not a cost-effective option for most Southern Californians. Plus, money left to a minor outright in a Will is turned over to the child at age 18, which nearly all parents can agree is a bad idea.

Did I mention that this Robo-Will Maker mentions in fine print that it is not a law firm and cannot give legal advice? Ethical “paralegals” will know that they are not legally allowed to give you legal advice about why you probably need a Revocable Living Trust in addition to a Will, along with several other documents to be truly prepared for incapacity and death.

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