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The Dean Law Firm Blog

Monday, March 30, 2020

Don’t Gamble Your Estate Plan with an Online Will!

Downloading a Will from the internet seems tempting – it’s quick, inexpensive, and you just fill in a few blanks.  However, signing a Will that you bought online is like playing poker with a blindfold on—you won’t know if you’ve bet correctly until it’s too late.  I’ve counseled many clients who were shocked to learn that a loved one’s online Will was invalid.  An invalid Will is treated like there is no Will at all, which ends up costing family members thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and tying up the Estate in administration.

There are three major problems that can happen with an online Will:

  1. The Will does not include necessary provisions.
  2. Online Will templates include boilerplate language that may not be applicable in your state. In Texas, we need to include certain state-specific provisions or the Will is invalid.

  3. The Will was signed incorrectly.
  4. If a Will does not have the correct amount of witnesses, it will be invalid.  It’s not enough in Texas for just you to sign a printed Will—a Will must be properly witnessed in order to be valid.

  5. The Will was signed and on its face looks correct, but proper signing procedures were not followed.

This one is the most frustrating.  While the Will may seem like it included the necessary provisions and that it was signed correctly, but upon further inspection, it was revealed that the Will signing procedures were not followed, rendering the Will invalid. Texas has rigid Will signing requirements and these must be followed.

If your Will is invalid, then your Estate must undergo an heirship proceeding, where the State of Texas will write your Will for you.  This means that all of your property will not necessarily pass to your surviving spouse or children.  In an heirship, your property will be distributed to your court-determined heirs-at-law.  This will result in your Estate being divided among your heirs, and depending on your situation, your Estate can be split in multiple directions and diminished by years of fighting between heirs.

You can prevent an administration headache by visiting an estate planning attorney to guide you in writing your Will and other necessary legal documents, such as a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, a HIPAA release, and any other necessary end-of-life documents.  The Dean Law Firm is available in the office, and virtually by Zoom Conference software, Skype, and by telephone conference.  In the time that it takes for you to download a Will online and fill in the blanks, you can visit with one of our experienced Estate Planning attorneys from the comfort of your home.  We offer complimentary initial Estate Planning appointments, so there is no cost to call us for a consultation. The peace of mind in knowing that everything is set up for the next generation is worth taking the time to correctly set up your estate plan—you can bet on that.

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The Dean Law Firm, PLLC assists clients in Sugar Land, TX and throughout Houston in Fort Bend County and Harris County.

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| Phone: 281-277-3326

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