Estate Planning Online: No DIY Wills and Trusts Anymore

If creating an estate plan does not top your priority list, you must reconsider it immediately. A well-designed and implemented estate plan will ensure that your loved ones are not left in limbo if you pass away suddenly or become incapacitated and are no longer capable of taking critical financial decisions.

If you, like many other people, procrastinate completing your estate plan because you believe the process will be lengthy and costly, we have good news for you. It is now possible to create a basic plan online.

Many law firms in Santa Rosa and elsewhere provide their customers access to a secure online portal that facilitates the exchange of information. While clients can share sensitive documents and receive secure emails on the portal, the estate planning firm uses the portal to keep their clients posted on the general progress of their estate planning project.

If you choose to create an estate plan online, you won’t have to meet your estate planning attorney in Santa Rosa in person. Your attorney will conduct video conference meetings (virtual meetings) that you can attend from the comfort of your home or office.

Going digital, however, is not the best option for people with a complex estate. That said, getting yourself organized online first will save you time and money.

Follow these three key steps to create an estate plan online:

Get Organized

First and foremost, think about the people you want to include in your estate plan. Choose your beneficiaries and estate manager. Next, document your assets and liabilities. This will help you get a picture of your financial situation and determine how complex your estate is. By now, you should also be able to figure out the type of estate planning that needs to be done.

This is also the right time to seek answers to these important questions:

  • Who should be the legal guardian of your minor kids?
  • Who should have the legal authority to distribute your assets?
  • Should assets that you leave for your spouse be held in a trust?

Decide Whether You Want to Hire an Online Service Provider or an Attorney 

Before starting to work with an online service provider, determine whether your situation is straightforward. Proceed only after you understand every cost element. Enquire whether you can directly ask your attorney questions. If you decide to hire an attorney, get clarity on fixed fees vs. hourly rates.

Draft Your Plan

Once your online service provider or attorney finalizes the details of your plan, they will ask you to perform important tasks such as retitling assets, changing beneficiaries, and opening/closing accounts. The professional will send the final draft to you for evaluation. Once you sign, your plan will take effect.

Want to draft an estate plan but do not know how to start? Let Johnston & Associates Law help. To get answers to all your estate planning questions, call 707-545-6542.