The last few years spent living under the long, dark cloud that was the COVID-19 pandemic were especially tough for Californians who endured some of the harshest and most economically devastating lockdowns in North America. Perhaps the hardest single lesson Californations learned was that death can come at any time and so it is little wonder that more residents than ever are making a last will and testament.
Another hard lesson though, was that the wealth gap in America only continues to grow and so it is little wonder that many residents of the sunshine state are looking for ways of creating a will without a lawyer in California in order to save costs. In this post we will look at online wills in California and how they compare to traditional will makers in terms of saving costs.
The Price of Justice
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that lawyers do not come cheap. The average cost of a lawyer in California ranges from anywhere between $164 – $442 per hour depending on the niche and the lawyer’s level of experience. Estate planning lawyers engaged by clients on a per document rather than a per hour basis, will usually charge around $300 for a simple will or up to $1,200 for a more complicated one. Considering that many millennials in California are living on under $2k per month, that is a lot of money to shell out on legal fees. Therefore it is very little wonder that young, savvy Californians are searching for alternatives such as online Will making services.
Is an Online Last Will and Testament Legit?
Whilst the origins of the e-law and online legal sector date back nearly two decades, it has taken quite a bit of time to catch on. Whereas e-retail, digital media and even online banking all managed to firmly establish themselves in the first decade of this century, it seems that internet users were not so keen about the idea of online legal services.
This is kind of understandable. Legal services are often delicate matters with very serious implications. As such, there will always be a place for traditional lawyers just as there will always be a place for family Doctors.
However, the reality is that a lot of what lawyers do is not actually all that delicate or all that complicated. For example, in the case of Will making, all a lawyer really does is collate information about their clients assets and their intended beneficiary, and then draft a document following a tried and tested set formula. For this reason, last will and testament template documents were amongst the very first legal documents that were available online and savvy internet users have been successfully using them to make legally sound wills for nearly two decades now.
Creating a Will Without a Lawyer in California – The Costs
As we saw earlier, in California, even a cheap lawyer drafting a simple Will will charge about $164 per hour or may agree to do the full drafting for $300. This is an absolute best case scenario and if the lawyer feels there are any complications in their clients estate or potential issues that need attention, the fee will only increase.
On the other hand, online wills for California can be downloaded online for as little as $50 or an average of $100. Ultimately it depends on the site where the will is downloaded from. Note that some online legal sites do not charge on a per document basis but instead operate a monthly subscription business model which allows users full access to the sites legal library. For most people though, a subscription to a legal document site is overkill so pay per document options remain more common.
The Future of Online Wills in California
Some American states had been lukewarm to the idea of online law and had placed barriers in the sector’s path. However these barriers are now being scaled back.
Therefore it seems to be almost a foregone conclusion that over the next decade, online Wills will become the norm. On the other hand, Wills drafted by estate lawyers may well become a rare exception, utilised only where a client has a high net worth or a particularly complicated family situation where a will may be contested.
Other Online Legal Documents
The e-legal sector is only going from strength to strength. For a long time, a lot of Californians and Americans felt that they simply could not access justice or legal advice as the costs were simply too high for them. However, as both the technology and consumer trust in the sector grows, it seems clear that more and more US residents will begin to access e-legal services.
During the last few years, the wealth gap in the US has only widened and more Americans are struggling to make ends meet, let alone find money for lawyers. However, tenancy agreements, employment contracts and even some real estate conveyancing can now all be successfully handled simply by downloading documents from the internet. Some online law sites have libraries that contain 1000’s of documents ranging from company incorporation documents to templates for filing personal injury claims.
As you can see, creating a Will without a lawyer in California need not be complicated, or expensive. There are now plenty of established, legitimate and highly regarded online law sites offering online Wills in California that are easy to use. If you are thinking about making your last Will and testament, then it has never been easier or cheaper to do it thanks to the burgeoning legal tech sector.