Consumer Reports: Writing an online will during coronavirus pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The coronavirus pandemic may have you thinking about finally writing that will you've been putting off. And if you're thinking about getting it done online, Consumer Reports has some advice.

You can get the proper documents, and save money, without leaving your house but you need to take some precautions and use the proper resources for guidance.

When it comes to writing a will, many people are turning to the internet in lieu of an in person meeting with an attorney.

"Online wills can be completed in an hour, for about $100. Where it might cost you around $1,000 if you were to go to a lawyer," said Ryan Felton of Consumer Reports.

Companies like LegalZoom and Nolo's Quicken Will Maker offer basic online wills starting around $89.

But if you are going the online DIY legal docs route, be careful. Many are a one size fits all form, which, not surprisingly, doesn't actually fit everyone.

That can make online wills pretty ambiguous and could lead to a court battle to settle the estate. Still, having some kind of will may be better than none at all.

"Now, if you die without a will, state laws will determine who gets what and where your kids will go. If you choose to make a will online, you will eventually need witnesses, and depending on your state, a notary public," said Felton.

It's also important that once your will is completed, you tell people who are named in it where the document is located.

Other end-of-life documents you can fill out online include an advance directive, which spells out the medical care you wish to receive at the end of your life, and forms to appoint a health care proxy, which is someone you appoint to make medical decisions if you can't speak for yourself.

You can find these forms at the AARP, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, and Prepare for Your Care websites.

For help thinking through the questions you need to ask yourself about your end-of-life care, and to choose the person you want to serve as your healthcare proxy, you can go to the American Bar Association's Tool Kit for Health Care Advance Planning or the guide from the Conversation Project.
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