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Saturday, April 28, 2018

WillowBee will-writing app is absolute crap

Recently I received an email from a company in Ontario called Willowbee telling me that they have created an app that lets you prepare your own will in 8 minutes or less. They invited me to try it out and provide comment, so I did. This post will let you know the results.

My first comment is that you should RUN - not walk - away from this app. What a disaster! I used the free app, as I'm sure most people will do. They offer a "lawyer concierge" who will check over the document for a few hundred dollars, but given the general crappiness of the legal work already in the app, I wouldn't pay a cent for the "lawyer concierge".

I'll give you some particulars of the problems I ran into.

One of the biggest problems I had with it is that without asking me or telling me anything, the app spit out a will that talked on and on about a "primary will" and a "secondary will". What? That's not legal anywhere except Ontario as far as I know. For sure it's not legal where I live. Would you know if it's legal where you live? The app asked me at the beginning which province I live in and I didn't pick Ontario. I didn't ask for that, and I certainly didn't ask for the half page of legalese that went with it. There's no way a layman could work with that language. And even if I lived in Ontario, are multiple wills a good idea for a person in my situation? Would you  know if they were a good idea for you?

The app asked me if I own a corporation and I said yes, and then the will it gave me specifically said that the shares of my corporation are not included in my estate. But why? I didn't ask for that. Of course I want my company to be part of my estate! And just to make things really confusing, the will went on to give the executor of my estate power to deal with companies I own and to hire people to work in companies I own. So is the company covered by the will or not? The app sure doesn't know.

Speaking of picking my province, as I said, I didn't choose Ontario. Yet the will was full of specific references to Ontario's laws such as the Estate Administration Tax Act, the Children's Law Reform Act and the Succession Law Reform Act. Those laws don't exist outside of Ontario. Why ask me my province if they're going to include law from some other province? If this was your will, would you know if those laws applied to you? Wills laws are all provincial and they are very different from each other. What happens if you have a will full of Ontario references when you don't live in Ontario?

The app asked me whether I am married, common law, widowed, etc. I chose to say I live common law with a made-up person called JJ. As I went through, it asked me the relationship to each of the beneficiaries and I gave 3 different names as my married spouse. The will just filled in that way, giving me a common law husband and 3 married husbands. Imagine how easy it would be to make a mistake if the app doesn't even catch MAJOR mistakes like that. Then imagine the litigation that would make lawyers rich for years as they untangled it all after you die with a will full of mistakes.

Also, in my province, as in others, if I married my hypothetical common law husband, my will would automatically be revoked but the app didn't tell me that or put anything into the will to address it.

I also gave a gift I described as "my car" (no details) to two different people and again the app just accepted it that way. So which one would get the car after my death?

I included a monetary gift to a charity that I simply called "cancer charity". Have you ever googled "cancer charity"? Probably not, but if you did you'd find dozens, if not hundreds, of answers. So who would that money go to after my death? It would go to the lawyers hired by the dozens of charities to clarify my will in court.

The app asked me to appoint a guardian for minor children so I made up a name for a guardian and an alternate guardian. For some reason, the will it gave me talked about the two guardians acting together. I know the meaning of an alternate guardian even if the app doesn't and I didn't ask for them to work together. I also notice that the app doesn't allow for you to set up funds to flow to the guardian to support the children while they are minors.

Neither does it cover:
- which assets are taxable
- what the tax might be
- how your joint assets fit in
- what happens with your assets with designated beneficiaries
- whether your executor should be paid or not
- what to do about money you've advanced to family members

The issue that dropped my jaw is that if you give an answer that seems complicated, the app tells you that you need to talk to the "lawyer concierge" but if you don't want to do that, you can go back and change your answers. I was horrified. You can actually go back and change your answer if you find your real life situation to be inconvenient.

When you download your will, the app spits out a page of instructions for printing and witnessing your will. It tells you to print "at least two copies" of your will for signing. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. You can only have ONE original will.

All I can say is please do not use this app. It will give you a completely false sense of security. Even if you never find out how bad the will is, your family sure will. Your will doesn't have to cost a fortune. I know money is tight for lots of people. But is putting everything you own or will ever own at risk really a good idea? Unless you want to make a lot of lawyers a lot of money on a lawsuit to figure out your will after your death, don't use this piece of junk.

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