Since the coronavirus outbreak began, our office has increasingly received requests for will preparation services and other questions related to the validity of online will forms. Our office has decades of experience in drafting wills and other basic estate planning documents such as general durable powers of attorney and advanced healthcare directives, and typically prepares these documents for a flat rate.
Why not use a free online form? The devil is in the details...
While you may be able to find forms for each of these documents online, there are a whole host of problems that can arise by use of these forms. In short, there are not uniform laws in each state with respect to the drafting of wills. As a result, online forms can miss critical nuances that have a material effect on how your property is distributed at death.
First and foremost, each state has specific formalities that must be adhered to for a person’s last will and testament to be effective. For example, amongst other requirements in Oregon, a will must be in writing, and be executed by the individual testator in the visual presence of at least two witnesses; further, each witness must hear the individual testator acknowledge the signature on the will, and then attest to the will in writing by signature.
Second, each state has its own definitions for common terms used in wills such as, “descendants”, “issue”, and “children”. As an example, using a term improperly in your will could result in the inclusion individuals mean to exclude from your will, resulting in the diminished bequests to the persons you actually want to leave your property.
Third, each state has specific rules regarding types of gifts, such as class gifts, advancements, and the treatment of certain types of property, such as jointly held real estate. These must be complied with for the will to actually perform as you intend it to.
All of these nuances together make it difficult for an online form to be accurate and to perform as desired. Accordingly, it may be best for you to contact a professional to help you navigate the complexities.
Contact Us About Our Flat Rates For Simple Wills
If you need assistance with the preparation of your will, power of attorney, please do not hesitate to contact Tim Elliott or Ian Osteen at our office at (541) 383-3755.