With the number of cases of coronavirus growing daily and a national crisis that is expected to get worse before it gets better, Americans are looking for ways to find some certainty amid unpredictability. One such example is the increased demand for online estate planning services.
Certain search terms have maintained a high level of interest on Google—with “estate planning” and “life insurance” being two prime examples over the past month—demonstrating that while people are sheltering in place and practicing social distancing, they are still not taking any chances with their lives and assets.
Demand Is Growing for Online Estate Planning, but Is It as Useful as Meeting in Real Life?
According to Julie Jargon, Family & Tech columnist for the Wall Street Journal, many different online estate planning services and apps are also seeing a sharp increase in demand. People want to be able to get a will, organize their estates, purchase life insurance, and otherwise put their wishes in writing without having to leave their living rooms. Now that many of us are confined to our homes, not to mention that many estate planning attorneys’ offices are closed, these quick-fix services seem to be essential.
But is using one of these services the same as meeting with an estate planning attorney? Is it safe to wait until things open back up so that you can speak to a real person instead of interacting with an algorithm?
Why You Shouldn’t Wait…but Choose Carefully
In her article in the Wall Street Journal, Jargon writes about Karlyn Nelson, who lost her husband on the same day in 2018 that she began chemotherapy for breast cancer.
She has been through all of this at the age of 43, which puts her on the cusp between Gen X and Millennials. Her example demonstrates that even during normal times, no one knows if they are going to get sick or die. You can be young and seemingly healthy, but all it takes is an accident, or in Nelson’s case, a terrible diagnosis. As we have all seen over the past few months, these times are anything but normal.
So, with a pandemic that is keeping everyone at home, it seems that online estate planning is the obvious choice. Right? In some simple cases, maybe. For temporary protection, buying life insurance through an app is better than not having any. Creating a DIY will is better than not having one at all.
However, for more complete protection, you need an estate planning attorney. Let’s take a look at Nelson’s example again.
Despite having a will, advanced directives, and powers of attorney in place at the time of his death, Ms. Nelson’s husband had failed to name her as an officer of the corporation that they ran together. She still needed the help of an attorney to fix this problem.
One thing that we are doing at Casal & Moreno is helping our clients execute their estate planning documents without making them leave the house. Since Florida doesn’t allow remote online notarization yet for estate planning, we are still under the vague Florida standard of “in front of two witnesses and a notary.” Simple enough. All this means is that you can stand at your door while one of the attorneys from our office and two of your neighbors watch you sign any documents you want to include in your estate plan.
Want Online Estate Planning Services with a Real Attorney?
When you start a relationship with an estate planning attorney, you are building something that lasts. In these difficult times, we at Casal & Moreno are still here to serve your needs. Contact us today if you need help with your estate plan. We will work to help you without making you leave the house.