There have been many reports of unintended consequences related to the use of online wills over the past few years. In fact, I have written about many of these issues on this blog.
It is important for individuals to understand that there is a difference between a document and a plan. While both contain words it is the way those words are used that determines the difference. Many Internet forms are generic and may not allow the permit the person named to manage the assets the powers necessary to properly manage or protect the assets. For example, in order to sell the testator’s property, the executor may have to obtain the court’s permission, and consent of the beneficiaries. This can create additional costs and delays in the distribution of the assets.
This can be important when dealing with a homestead where the asset is not typically subject to probate. If the homestead is owned by a trust and the house needs to be sold, the trustee can determine if a distribution or sale of the asset is best. When an individual does not have a will or creates an online will, the home is typically not subject to probate and will pass outside of probate. This can cause problems including delays and thousands of dollars in additional costs when some of the beneficiaries want to sell the home, and others do not.