Online legal services see business explode as Americans rush to make wills. Well that’s just great.

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In a somewhat expected but odd twist, given the low infection and mortality rate of [COVID-19] when compared to H1N1 and other major pandemics, the online legal community is seeing a mass movement towards people preparing and filing their last wills and testaments.

Bryan Borzykowski with CNBC reports several key points:

-With COVID-19 impacting more and more Americans, individuals across the country are scrambling to set up wills and end-of-life directives.

-As of Monday, Boston-based Gentreo has seen a 143% week-over-week increase in people filling out wills, while San Diego’s Trust & Will has seen a 50% uptick in users.

-However, lawyers caution that DIY wills can be deemed invalid if they don’t meet all of the legal requirements of your state.

Individuals across the country are scrambling to set up wills and end-of-life directives. That includes 32-year-old Morgan Hopkins, who after seeing how much damage the virus has caused across the globe, decided that now is a good time to write down who would get her possessions in case the worst happened.

Hopkins said:

“I started seeing stories of young people who are in otherwise perfectly good health in the hospital or in critical condition with the virus.

I’m willing to think about the worst-case scenario, and I wanted to be prepared — no one is immune.”

Last Thursday, as people began social distancing in earnest, Hopkins created an account with Cake, a company that lets people create wills and other end-of-life plans entirely online.

From her home, she outlined who would get her things, including jewelry, assets from two retirement accounts and loads of Beyoncé paraphernalia (not sure who would want that, though).

She also gave directives on the kind of funeral she’d want, how she should be cared for if she becomes mentally incapacitated and even who should manage her social media accounts if she passes away.

It was a lot to consider, she said:

“I was surprised by the things it asked me that I hadn’t thought of.”

It could be that stories of deaths of high-profile celebrities where no will or a convoluted will was involved has influenced citizens. 

For example, Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson), famous pop artist first known for his movie and album both titled “Purple Rain,” passed away unexpectedly at age 58 and left no will. 

He has an approximate net worth of over $300 million, and the feud and battle between family members and friends still lingers strongly after his death in 2016. 

In a similar scenario, famous R&B singer Aretha Franklin passed away with a net worth of over $80 million, and the battle of her relatives and business associates continues to this day.

Over the last few years, a number of online estate planning start-ups have popped up, with all of them offering users a cheap and easy way to create a legally binding will. In about 30 minutes, one can detail all of their end-of-life wishes and ensure that everything from property to possessions to children will go to the right people if the unthinkable occurs.

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

Barbo started Trust & Will in 2017; it has since raised about $8 million in funding, according to Crunchbase, because he saw an opportunity to modernize the $170 billion estate-planning sector.

If the tax industry could make filling out taxes easy to do online, then he could do the same with estate planning, he thought.

Plus, with only 37% of Americans having a will, according to Caring.com, there’s a massive opportunity to get more people to create one.

Instead of having to find a lawyer and talk about death with someone you barely know, you can go through the entire process at home and, at a cost of between $39 and $399 or more, depending on the product, for much less than what a lawyer would charge.

Barbo said:

“Take the average American family. They have a life insurance policy, a couple of kids and some assets that may need to get divided. It’s pretty straightforward. Why not make it intuitive with an affordable price point?”

Why not, indeed?

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