Should You Use Free Estate Planning Forms?

Should you use free estate planning forms?

Estate planning forms are used to explain to your estate administrator as well as to the California probate court what should happen to your assets when you pass away. Proper estate planning is important. Yet, many people never get around to estate planning because they believe going to an estate planning attorney is too expensive. Should you save money by using free estate planning forms you find on the Internet?

Related: California Estate Planning: The Basic Documents Involved

You Get What You Pay for with Free Estate Planning Forms

The Internet is a great tool. Yet, when it comes to free estate planning forms (and other free legal documents), you definitely get what you pay for. Here’s how relying on free estate planning forms can cause a problem for your estate in the future.

The forms aren’t up-to-date with the latest state laws. Laws change. And, yes, if you work with a lawyer to set-up an estate plan, you’ll still need to review it from time to time to make sure that it fits your needs. However, many of the free estate planning forms that say they are written with California laws in mind are outdated.

Your completed documents may not be honored. Since there’s a chance that the free estate planning forms you chose don’t rely on the proper laws, there’s also a chance that the California probate court, financial institutions, and other outlets also will not honor them. If the court decides that your completed forms aren’t valid, including your Last Will and Testament, they may distribute your assets following California intestacy laws. Your assets could get distributed in a way that disregards your stated desires.

Related: California Will: What If  You Don’t Want to Provide for Your Heir?

Websites providing free estate planning forms can’t give you legal advice. Only lawyers can give you legal advice. That includes, by the way, telling you which estate planning forms would best suit your objectives. They also can’t give you adequate tax advice. If you’re worried about federal estate tax, capital gains, or any other sort of tax you believe may affect your estate or your family, free form sites aren’t really designed or equipped to help you sort that out.

Can Free Estate Planning Forms Help You in Any Way?

While we certainly don’t think it is wise for anyone to rely on free estate planning forms to create their estate plan, they can still be useful. By looking at some of the various options available to you, you’re able to formulate questions about whether that sort of form would truly meet your needs. Then, you can make an appointment with an estate planning lawyer (and there are many virtual estate planning lawyers available, too) to discuss which estate planning documents would meet your needs. The lawyer can then help make sure that your estate planning forms are properly completed.

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