Why creating a digital will with a downloaded form is risky

The internet has made life infinitely more convenient in many ways. Unfortunately, online resources also add a layer of complication to many aspects of life. People can fall victim to misinformation and even scams that put them at legal or financial risk. For example, it has never been easier for people to research legal matters or locate boilerplate legal documents. It only takes a few seconds to search online and locate templates for wills and other estate planning documents.

Many people thinking about their families or their legacies make the mistake of searching online, downloading a few documents and assuming that they now have the protection of a valid estate plan. Paperwork downloaded off of the internet can be a real gamble for someone who needs legal protection. Those who want to create an estate plan may end up creating documents that do not serve their intended purpose.

Valid wills must meet state requirements

The biggest concern about the creation of downloaded estate planning paperwork is the possibility of drafting unenforceable documents.  Arizona probate laws impose several requirements on the creation of a will.

Someone must be an adult and be of sound mind to draft testamentary documents. They generally need to create written documents and must have witnesses present when they sign their will. Arizona law requires two adult witnesses to also sign the will. The actual contents of the will also need to adhere to Arizona state statutes.

Boilerplate documents obtained online could be legally valid in another state but not in Arizona. Someone who signs paperwork at home by themselves does not have any witnesses to affirm that the signature is theirs and that they have the testamentary capacity necessary to draft legal documents. Individuals who fill in documents that they find online might also try to impose terms in their estate plans that make the documents invalid.

An estate plan is only useful if it serves its purpose in the Arizona probate courts. Partnering with someone familiar with the law may help testators create valid wills and other estate planning documents. Those who take the time to create usable wills can feel justifiably confident about their legacies and the care of their loved ones.