Will a Free Online Will protect my family?

Natalia, a real and experienced attorney reviews a free online will. Let's see what she found . . .

I have completed a free will application online form to see what kind of document, because it’s not a plan kind of document these things are preparing for you and let me tell you there’s mistakes. 

The first thing they tell you when you print it out is, “Free Will is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice”, clearly, CLEARLY these are not drafted by attorneys, but they ask you questions that are asking legal advice. so, guess what? They are committed via unlicensed practice of law, let’s continue. 

OK so, the big thing they already see is a mistake. You know as the executor power, they have power to exercise all powers of an absolute owner of property. What the heck is that? That is not the kind of authority that you want to be giving an executor over an estate. Why? Because an executive is supposed to manage property on behalf of the beneficiaries of your estate, they are not supposed to be giving absolute power as an absolute owner of a property; they’re not the recipients of your estate, they are not your designated heirs in essence so that’s one giant big scary mistake. 

Under the digital assets section right we all own digital assets if you have things on Facebook if you have things on LinkedIn anything that you’ve created video those are all digital assets right, they make absolutely no reference to the digital asset statute in the state of Florida, so yeah, not good. 

As far as special gifts for pets, I put in I have a  pet and they asked how much money do you want to leave for your pet but here in the clause it says I give to my pet caregiver the sum of $10,000 and I request that this gift be used for the care of my pets but that’s not enforceable because you’re actually leaving it for that person in fact it says, I request for do not direct well guess what that means they could take that $10,000 and run with it. 

Other things that are really big mistakes especially if you’re not dealing with an attorney, the tendency of these documents online to just direct that all of the estate or inheritance taxes be paid out of the residue of your estate well guess what in these cheap wills everything’s thrown in the residue meaning all your assets are thrown in as the leftovers of your state so that everything including your homestead is affected by this language because in Florida homestead protections are really tricky on the way the wording is used you’ve got to be really careful to not lose the homestead protections and creditor protections that would otherwise be available for your family members so another big mistake. The other thing that’s not well done in these documents is that when they talk about the residue payment of all expenses coming out of residue what they’re including is your retirement accounts, but retirement accounts work differently there’s income tax issues that are arising there and guess what you’re now directing these income taxes be paid through the residue of your estate really leaving very little for your family members. 

They have a spendthrift provision spendthrift provisions, when well done with an attorney that knows what they’re doing, are designed to keep assets away from creditors of your beneficiaries well the way this is written just says hey until things are distributed to them no creditors can touch them great but that’s not really a specific provision not one that’s actually going to make sense and protecting young people from the difficulties of coming into money. In a real conversation with an attorney that specializes in Estate planning is going to let you understand why that’s not a very effective spendthrift provision. 

This last one is forced to create a special needs trust or provisions for special needs. This is when somebody needs access to Medicare or Medicaid or something else because they have either a disability or something similar, but the language that they put in for a spendthrift trust is the wrong language to protect benefits. This is known by specialized estate planning attorneys, but it’s not known by entities that are not attorneys. So, here they have language that would in fact put the special needs beneficiary at risk because of how it describes what kind of things a beneficiary would receive. 

 

Another thing is that they ask if you want a self-proving affidavit with very little explanation about what a self-proving affidavit is or why it’s there and in fact that should never be a question it should always be included but anyway, I digress so the cheap even free wills you find online they’re not a plan they’re a set of mistakes that you don’t understand.

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