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Potential pitfalls of electronic wills

While electronic wills are not yet considered legally binding in Georgia, several other states have passed legislation that permits them, and Georgia could change its laws in the future. Many younger adults prefer e-wills because they are in line with other services they are able to access online. They seem easier and simpler than a process that involves meeting with an attorney in person. However, there are a number of potential drawbacks.

The process of signing an online will can be done from home. The creator of the will prepares it and then has a video chat with an online notary to whom the will has been forwarded. While this might seem like a streamlined way to get an estate plan in place, it may not allow for addressing some of the many complications that should be dealt with as part of the overall estate plan. Furthermore, people often think they have a relatively straightforward estate and only realize that is not the case after meeting with a professional.

Another issue is the potential for abuse. This was the case for one elderly woman whose home healthcare aide had her sign an e-will that gave the entire estate to the aide. In turn, an e-will might be more vulnerable to challenges from family members.

There are many situations that could make an estate more complicated even for people who believe their finances are relatively straightforward. Meeting with an attorney to discuss estate administration and probate may help bring these situations to light as they review assets with a client. For example, blended families could present a number of potential problems. If the person has been married before, the previous spouse might never have been removed from beneficiary designations. These documents override a will, so assets could end up going to an ex-spouse.

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