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Here's why many are rushing to get their wills drawn up amid the coronavirus pandemic

Anna M. Tinsley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Parenting News

"If you die without a will, then it's a lot more expensive to go through probate," Jamieson said.

Not only that, but without a will, guardianship of a person's children might not go the way he or she intended. Not to mention if the person who dies is in a second or third marriage, and doesn't have a will stipulating what goes to the surviving spouse, children from the different marriages could end up getting everything.

"To be clear, no one should be updating their wills solely due to the pandemic," said Anna Barker, a personal finance expert and founder of Oregon-based LogicalDollar, a website that helps people manage and invest money. "At the same time, it provides a good opportunity to do so, especially if this is something you haven't considered before or in some time.

"While the pandemic may be an uncomfortable reminder that we never know what's around the corner, things can also happen to you in non-pandemic times."

Online or in person?

For Do It Yourself people, there are templates online on sites such as LegalTemplates.net that can help people craft their documents. Between Jan. 21 and the first week of April, there was a 176% increase in traffic to the site's last will and testament template page, said Mollie Moric, a legal analyst and staff writer for the site.

 

At the same time, Gentreo, another site for DIY will writers, has seen a 223% increase this year in people joining the website to make wills, health care proxies and other legal documents. The number of Texans registering on the site in February, March and April was seven times as large as those who joined in February, Fry said. These wills can cost about $130 with coupons.

"Estate planning used to be something people thought was only for older adults or the very wealthy, but now most understand this is for everyone no matter what the age," Fry said.

Legal fees for those who choose to work with an attorney to draw up their will can be thousands of dollars, depending on how complicated the will is.

For those who choose to hire an attorney, much of the discussion about what should be in a will and who the beneficiaries are can be done on the phone in these days of social distancing.

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