Wife’s an estate attorney.
Online wills vary wildly in quality. All 50 US states, DC, VI, etc., have different laws. Any given online will may or may not be fully applicable to the wrinkles in your state. And may be obsolete or low-quality BS to begin with. The only person who can legitimately determine how good / bad / fitting an online will is to your situation is an attorney or paralegal. Said another way, the one person who can’t tell … is you.
The simpler your situation the better the odds are an online form will suffice. You’re married and childless and want it all to go to your wife? Easy peasy; that’s very hard to screw up. You and she have kids, step-kids, special needs kids, extended family, etc.? You’re of vastly different ages? Have lots of money, foreign assets, real estate, etc.? Have a dysfunctional family prone to fighting? Bigger deals, all of them.
One of the values of an attorney (or lesser legal service) is to help you thoroughly explore what you do own, how it will be taxed, and to who you want it distributed under what circumstances. There’s a LOT more involved in a full estate plan than just a will. What happens if you and wife die in a common accident? Who gets what and who takes care of your minor children? Who’s empowered to take action to close out your affairs?
If you have a stroke and are permanently mentally incompetent, who will speak on your behalf as to living arrangements? As to medical care? What instructions will you have written down first for their guidance as to your wishes in this situation? All the same questions need answers for your wife. Both for when you’re there and capable, and for when you’re not.
Most folks suck at thinking about this stuff. Getting some help greatly reduces the odds of making a gross error.
My wife’s second job is as a house attorney for many small town banks. Not a week goes by we aren’t handed a problem where some family has suffered a tragedy and they’d failed to plan, or had planned badly or incompletely, for the scenario they are now in. And they’re trying to limp along as best they can using the money in our client bank. All to often we have to advise the bank to lock the account, sequester the funds and await court guidance a year from now. Because as a matter of law we can’t let the family do what appears to be the right thing.
Conversely, not a week goes by we don’t thwart an effort by somebody, usually a niece / nephew, to steal all of aging infirm aunt’s / uncle’s money. Usually facilitated by a power of attorney somebody got off a website.
Don’t be that guy.
Quality legal advice and quality estate prep is like quality insurance. It looks expensive until you need it. Then it turns out to be a hell of a bargain.
My Dad refused to do proper estate planning. His inaction pissed away nearly a million dollars in completely avoidable expenses and taxes and misdirected another $5M. Gee thanks Dad; you really shouldn’t have.
Don’t be that guy. Your kids deserve better than that.