We’ve seen a number of these recently; the “free” or the $5 Last Will and Testament. In fact, I’ll offer you one right here; a Free Last Will and Testament form . But be warned, it’s an absolute piece of garbage and will probably cause more problems for your family and loved ones than not creating one at all.
The market is becoming crowded for online Will services.
At www.legalwills.ca , www.uslegalwills.com and www.legalwills.co.uk we charge $34.95 and £24.95. We do this because we have worked with top legal teams in Canada, the US and UK to create our services. We have a support team in place who can help users step through the process and we have professional affiliations. We also stand by our services as top quality, legal, affordable alternatives to seeking legal advice. We know that our service is not appropriate for everybody, and we often recommend that some people with complicated situations not use our service and instead seek legal advice.
So what does a $5 Last Will and Testament give you? Some websites operate like the Giant Tiger of legal forms; they have hundreds or thousands of downloadable PDF’s which probably will not work for you; there will be no alternate provisions, help text, support, residual beneficiaries, minor trusts, and it is quite possible that you will write something in your Will that is simply not legally permitted e.g. disinheriting dependents. But a $5 Will company does not care about this.
I’m actually surprised by the quality of many online sites that claim to have been created by lawyers. They obviously have no concerns that a large number of people will use their service thinking that they have a legal Will, when many will be legally invalid. I’m not sure how the law societies will feel about the quality of product being created by these lawyers. Sadly, we cannot compete on price with a downloadable pdf form. But we do feel good about our service and know that quality legal documents have been created by tens of thousands of people.
Many articles talk about the dangers of preparing your own Will, and it is really the cheap, daily discount Wills that are being dismissed in these articles. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to discern a quality online service and a poor one. Look for services that are interactive (not downloadable blank forms), have been in place for a while, have online help with phone and email support, and a service that generates a final document that runs at least 4-5 pages. If it doesn’t, then it has not included all of the clauses that should be in a basic Will. I wish I could just list services that you should not use, but that is probably a bad idea.