Best online will writing service
In the past few years will writers have started to harness technology to try to create the best online wills. The ultimate aim is to provide the best online will writing service at a fraction of the cost of traditional in-person will writing services.
In a previous article we’ve discussed how will writing remained unchanged for nearly 200 years until the arrival of online Wills in 2018.
This article will examine online Will writing more closely. We will discuss how to assess and determine which is the best online will writing service and the best online will companies in Singapore.
There are various things that can be looked at to determine what is the best online will generator in Singapore.
For instance, you may assess online will writing services by looking at the process of using the site or service. The problem with this is that it ignores the most important thing. The most important thing must be the results that are produced i.e. the wills themselves.
If we were assessing a dentist’s work, is it helpful look at the patient’s feelings about the visit? Does it matter very much of the clinic had soothing music, TV screens to watch whilst the dentist performed root canal treatment?
Aren’t the results of the root canal treatment more important? If the treatment didn’t work does it matter that the patient felt calm and relaxed during the procedure? Results matter most.
With an online will creator site it’s the same thing. It is the results that matter most. Even if a person thoroughly enjoyed the process of writing a will with an online site if the will itself is poor then that site can hardly be considered the best and may actually be useless.
To find the best online site to make a will we must judge the results produced by a site.
What would experts look at to assess an online will site?
If a foreign-trained lawyer was transferred to Singapore by his/her corporate employer and wanted to make a will what would he/she want to look at? We think these would be the relevant factors he/she would look at :
- How a site allows a user able to divide up or distribute his/her estate;
- How a site addresses and accommodate matters unique to Singapore such as the Section 26 Wills Act provisions for a child beneficiary of a will maker predeceasing the will maker;
- If Section 26 is catered for then how does an online site allow users to deal with what happens if a beneficiary dies and how does it allow users to cater for this possibility;
- What flexibility does an online site have for permitting a will maker to defer the vesting age for child beneficiaries to an age beyond 21 years?
- Is there an option to choose between an international Will and a concurrent Will?
- Does the will site allow a choice of listing the names of child beneficiaries or to leave the children un-named in the will?
- Does the will site allow you to choose if a specific gift is to be made only if you have no surviving children or is to be made even if you have a surviving child?
- Are same sex couples catered for?
- Are unmarried couples catered for?
- Does the will site offer a Letter of Wishes template?
Most of these factors will affect the final will i.e. these factors decide how the will itself is written.
These factors give a good idea of the quality of the will that can be produced by an online will site. Looking at these factors gives a much better of the Wills a site can produce than just looking at what users experience as they write their wills online.
Unless an assessment takes into account the final produce ie the will that is produced what value can such an assessment be worth?
No site can claim to be the best online will creator or the best online will generator if the wills that are created or generated are of low quality. Just as with skilled craftsmen will writers have differing experience. An experienced will lawyer is more capable of designing a better system that generates or creates better final wills. This is what would matter to a lawyer wanting to use an online will site.
A different point of view
To be fair some may argue that if an online will site allows the greatest latitude to a will maker to write a will that must be the best online will site.
We understand why such a view may seem attractive. The logic is that giving users the greatest latitude or number of choices means ‘flexibility’. However, the flaw in this view is evident when the argument is taken to its natural conclusion.
At its most extreme giving someone a blank sheet of paper to write a will absolutely allows the will maker the greatest latitude since there are no limits or boundaries. Of course any will making site offering a completely blank sheet of paper as a start clearly can’t be the best online will preparation site.
Putting in ‘fields’ like name, address, NRIC numbers of executors, beneficiaries and guardians is equally useless. Similarly asking users to just name their beneficiaries and what share of the estate is being given to each beneficiary is nearly as unhelpful as a blank sheet of paper.
Unfortunately, it does seem like this is what most of the free online will sites offer. Their ‘solution’ consists merely of asking 3 basic questions:
- Who do you want as a beneficiary;
- what share of the estate is being given to each beneficiary;
- what specific gift is to be given to each beneficiary.
This isn’t rocket science. Anyone with a basic education can ask you these same 3 questions. How much better is this than giving a blank piece of paper to write a will?
To be fair, free online will sites like the OCBC will generator does have a function and role in society.
If after 200 years most people in Singapore have yet to write their will then if a free will site manages to get some people to make a will that’s not all bad.
Unfortunately, it’s not all good either. As most free online will generating sites are so basic users need to be warned of the potential problems using such basic free sites.
When free online will sites fall short
An online site may simply ask you to list the names of the beneficiaries. If it then asks you what specific gift you wish to give to a beneficiary followed by the share of the estate is to be given to each beneficiary it treats all beneficiaries the same which creates a problem.
Say you name A & B as beneficiaries but you want to give A your watch and you want to give everything else to B. Some websites will assume that after the gift of the watch you want to give the rest of your estate to both A and B. If you choose to give 100% of the residue to A and 0% to B a well created site will then not mention B in the residue clause of the Will.
Unfortunately, if you use the OCBC online will generator as an example you will see that it names both A and B as residue beneficiaries with A getting 100% and B 0%. This may not be a problem if A outlives the will maker. If A dies first than the will produced by the will generator says:
“In the event any of the beneficiaries referred to in Clause 7 shall predecease me, then the share which such deceased beneficiary of mine would have been entitled to had [he/ she] been alive shall lapse absolutely and shall be given to the surviving beneficiary, and if more than one, in equal shares”.
In simple English this clause means that if A dies first a question arises – is B ‘the surviving beneficiary’ entitled to everything even though he/she is given 0% of the estate? After all, B is listed as a beneficiary in Clause 7 even if the share is 0%. Further, the Will doesn’t make any distinction between a residuary beneficiary and a specific beneficiary. A court decision would probably be needed and legal fees incurred.
Free advice can sometimes be the most expensive advice you can get. An online Will that you make for ‘free’ may be ‘free’ at the time you write your Will but when the Will has to be probated your beneficiaries may end up paying a huge price then.
Another basic problem with free online will creating sites
Of the various criteria we suggested be considered in assessing online will making sites we mentioned “how an estate can be distributed or how a user is able to divide up his/her estate” as the 1st criteria.
How a user is able to divide up his/her estate is a basic question. It is fundamental to any will.
If a user has 2 beneficiaries the estate must be able to be divided equally between the 2 beneficiaries. Simple?
Unfortunately, this is where the OCBC will generator runs into a second problem. If you wish to divide your estate equally between 3,7,9 or 11 beneficiaries it just can’t be done on the OCBC will generator. The generator will only allow unequal distribution if you have 3,7,9 or 11 beneficiaries. Parents with 3 kids must decide which of their children is to end up forever wondering if they were loved less than the child given that marginally bigger share.
The OCBC will generator (and we suspect several other free online will writing sites) cannot help you if you wish to be fair and divide your estate equally between 3, 7, 9 or 11 beneficiaries.
This is not mistake in the creation of the OCBC will generator. Rather, we think OCBC’s aim was to create BASIC will generator with very basic functionalities. Hence, no effort has been put in to ask what happens if a will maker wants to divide his/her estate equally between 3,7,9 or 11 beneficiaries.
A bigger problem with free will sites
Maybe the 2 problems we’ve mentioned may not affect you. However, most people worry what happens if a beneficiary predeceases them. What happens to that beneficiary’s share is a big concern.
Online will writing sites fail to cater for users’ wishes when they don’t ask what users would if a beneficiary passes away 1st. Some of online will websites fail to warn their users that by using their site they may unknowingly be removing certain protections that might otherwise apply to them under Singapore law.
Under Singapore law if a will maker’s child is a beneficiary under the will but dies before the will maker that share of the deceased child does NOT automatically lapse. Section 26 of the Wills Act says that unless there is a contrary intention in the will the share of the deceased child will still pass on to his/her estate if he/she had children that are alive when the will maker passes.
Section 26 is like an “extension” of the Intestate Succession Act. If a person dies without a will but one of his children has passed away earlier then under the Intestate Succession Act the children of the deceased child is entitled to their deceased parent’s share.
Looking back at the clause generated by the OCBC Will generator mentioned earlier we now highlight parts of that clause:
“In the event any of the beneficiaries referred to in Clause 7 shall predecease me, then the share which such deceased beneficiary of mine would have been entitled to had [he/ she] been alive shall lapse absolutely and shall be given to the surviving Beneficiary..”
The OCBC will generator is creating wills that cancels out Section 26 of the Wills Act! Users have not had their attention drawn to this significant departure from Section 26.
Users of the OCBC will generator are not being asked if in fact it is their wish that Section 26 of the Wills Act NOT apply to their will.
How many other free online will sites are creating similar wills with similar clauses? If an online will writing site creates wills with such a clause would you regard it as the best online will writing site?
Despite the good work the free online will sites are doing they are no Olympic champions. Unless an online will site directly asks users what they wish happen to the share of a beneficiary that is a child of the will maker that site is definitely not ‘best online will writing service in Singapore’.
Assessing other online will writing sites
We’ve pointed out 3 problems with the OCBC will generator. Any online will site that has compared its own site against the OCBC will generator but fails to raise the same 3 problems we raised must be asked about their failure to do so? Are they unaware of these 3 problems? Do they also have the same 3 problems? If not, why have they not mentioned these problems instead of hyping their certain aspects of their own site?
At EzWills we allow full access to our system (https://ezwills.com.sg/get-started/). Anyone is able to test out our system and decide if it’s good enough to create a simple Will and how complex a Will can be made on our site. That way anyone can test to see if our system is able to meet and handle all 10 of the factors we listed above.
Not only are we aware of the problems with the OCBC will generator but:
- all our users can divide their estate equally between their beneficiaries (regardless of the number;
- our users can decide if a specific gift is to apply only if the will maker has no surviving children or even if there are surviving children ie we deal with specific and residuary beneficiaries separately so a will maker can have specific beneficiaries who do not receive any other part/s of the estate;
- we ask users if any beneficiary predeceases if the share of that predeceasing beneficiary is to pass to his/her children or to be distribute amongst beneficiaries who survive.
We do not claim supremacy over other online will making sites by pointing to the fact that we offer users the ability to make their own LPA online. It’s illogical to claim supremacy on the basis of this. If a man is not a good carpenter saying that he is a plumber as well makes him good at neither as he may be as bad a plumber as he is a carpenter.
EzWills used to offer online LPAs but EzWills is not the best online legal will service because we offered online LPAs. We have to be judged on the basis of the wills we produce for users. Simple as that.
Anyway, it is meaningless for anyone to simply claim that they are the best. At EzWills we strive to be the best online will writing service. That’s all we can do. Strive. Not make empty claims.
What we can do is to continue innovating and that is what we aim to do. We believe that is the only way to become the best online will writing service in Singapore producing the best online wills and stay the best. Even if we think we’re the best it’s really what you think that matters.
In a future article we will look at the 10 factors we’ve highlighted as being the most relevant in assessing any online will making site. We will examine and discuss it in greater detail so everyone understands why these factors matter.
Meanwhile we invite you to write your Will now at https://ezwills.com.sg/get-started/.
30 June 2022