Online Wills…What’s the problem?
There are a lot of offers out there to make online wills. I have even seen a few that come up on social media platforms.
The thing about online wills is that the person making them doesn’t know what needs to be in these documents in order for them to work. As an attorney, I have now taken three online wills through the probate court. I can firmly tell you that people don’t know what they don’t know. All three of these online wills required that the executor get a probate bond before the executor could be appointed. This aspect alone created an additional expense of at least $500. This was just for a piece of paper to hand across the filing counter.
These online wills did not allow the executor to sell the property. This meant that each beneficiary had to sign to a consent to sell the house. Not only did it take a while to get all of these signatures; it meant the house couldn’t be sold until later in the estate administration process.
You see, when an executor has the power to sell real property in a will, that probate court cannot interfere with that power. As soon as the executor is appointed by the probate court, the executor can sell. If there’s not a will, there is no executor and no power to sell. This means that the sale cannot happen until later in the estate administration process.
A real estate sale, by consent, cannot happen until the estate inventory has been approved. This usually doesn’t happen until three months after the executor has been appointed. This may or may not be an issue, but there are additional expenses each month the house sits vacant.
Online wills appear to be a solution. In reality, they create bigger problems.