Q: Is Freewill a reputable service for a straight-forward will and trust? I only have one beneficiary.
No children or living parents. Sibling is beneficiary, niece if sibling dies before me. Only assets in the trust will be my share of a home and personal financial assets.
A: Nothing beats an attorney giving you personal service tailored to your needs, because mistakes are very expensive in this field. BUT, yes, FreeWill is reputable and honest.
You will get a form template document from any online company. If your situation needs trust language that doesn’t come as part of their standard forms, I don’t know how the online companies would handle that. Perhaps they charge an extra fee or perhaps you just don’t get the best language possible.
For example, if you have an adult child who receives government benefits because the “child” (adult) is disabled, naming that child as a beneficiary of your trust could easily result in the child getting kicked off the government program after you pass away. In that case, when the disabled child runs out of the inheritance money, the child will need to re-apply to the government and hope he/she gets back on the government benefits — which isn’t as easy as it may sound. This is just one example of how I’ve seen things go wrong when people have used online companies.
Another thing I regularly see is people who don’t have experience drafting and/or reading trust language literally guessing which box to check in an online form and creating issues that could have been avoided. I have cleaned up enough messes over the years that I tell people this: If you know what you are doing and won’t be guessing about anything when filling out the online forms, you might be OK using an online company. But if you don’t and there is no lawyer working with you to ask questions about what you report to the online company, you will be setting up a trust at your own risk. And remember estate plans deal with EVERYTHING YOU OWN, so that’s one heck of a risk.
Be sure to read the disclaimers on the website of the online company. Most online companies say they have no liability and rely 100% on what you tell them. So, if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be a crap shoot.
For those who are skeptical and say they don’t need a lawyer to help them, I ask if they know the legal definition of the word issue. That usually convinces them I’m not being a stereotypical used car salesperson and sincerely wanting to help them get good advice and counsel. Best wishes!
Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.
The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.
Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.