More people these days are taking advantage of the availability and affordability of having their wills drafted online by popular legal companies. While people may think they are saving money by going online and getting their will done there, many are unaware of the specific requirements to make the wills valid during execution and the change in laws as they relate to probate.
The laws have changed and probate can be avoided!
When someone dies and they have assets where we are unsure as to where they go, we rely on the Texas Estates Code to guide us as to whom the property and assets should be distributed. If someone has a will (testate administration) then we look to the will during probate. If the person died without a will (intestate administration) then we look to intestate succession under the Texas Estates Code to see which heirs and in what proportions they will receive property and assets.
Probate is expensive, can be complicated, and is time consuming!
Our goal is setup an estate to avoid probate. And this is what you do not get when you have a will drafted online. You do not get the personal attention and information how to setup everything you own or may own in the future so that it does not have to go through probate.
How do we avoid probate?
We assist our clients in labeling and categorizing their assets as non-probate assets so that probate is not needed. What does that mean? When someone dies, we have their estate setup so everything automatically transfers to their beneficiaries without the need of a will and filing it with probate.
Should I still get a will?
Yes! We always draft a will for our clients even if we have positioned their estate to avoid probate. Why? The will serves as a backup in case an asset is acquired in the future that needs to go through probate, then we can rely on the will. Or if there is a contest, we can use the will as evidence to show the intent of the deceased.
The horrors of online wills…
We have seen cases where store-bought wills (what we call online wills) were improperly executed or contained language that did not follow the Estates Code. They can be easily challenged and can cause more headaches and costs in probate and administration than they solve.
You will NOT save money with an online will
Do not think you can save some time and money with an online will, as your estate will likely pay more for it on the back end through administration and potential errors.
You DO want to speak with an experienced licensed professional
Do speak with an experienced wills and trust lawyer who knows estate planning and that can discuss with you as to how to avoid probate.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about estate planning and avoiding probate and would like to speak with one of our experienced estate planning and probate attorneys, contact us at the Oxner Legha Law Firm by calling 346-327-9500.