Taking a form will off the internet and saying that there is now an estate plan in place would be an exercise in self-delusion. The truth is that there are many issues that must be evaluated, several more legal instruments prepared, and in the ideal situation, this should all be done under the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney and, where appropriate, a qualified financial adviser. For residents of California, choose an attorney who is proficient in the estate laws of this state.
Regarding the internet, younger people these days store their most valuable business activities online and use the web for basics such as banking, correspondence, contract execution and so forth. The older generation has gotten into the act and it is becoming the norm throughout society. Therefore, it can be a devastating mistake to not have a will or other legal directive that explicitly instructs one's representatives on how to handle one's online business and personal accounts.
Recent court battles have sprung up due to internet service providers refusing to turn over private account data to estate representatives and family members. To avoid that potentially damaging dilemma, one should share transparently all online accounts and intentions for how to handle them with the estate planning attorney. In addition, it is important for all persons to have a durable power of attorney and health care directives prepared and signed.
The power of attorney is a necessary estate planning instrument. It provides a designated agent to sign one's name if the person has become incapacitated or incompetent to act for him or herself. The health care directive or proxy also appoints an agent with respect to health care decisions. This person can sign the maker's name and act on his or her behalf in communicating the maker's wishes to the medical providers. California like other states also allows the individual to direct the medical providers to not maintain life artificially during a last illness.