Difference Between An Online And A Paper Will

By: | Updated: Nov-16, 2022
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59% of adults in Australia have a valid will. Changes in assets and or life stage changes usually influence people’s decision to draw up a will. 

A will is a document where you can express your wishes on how you’d like your assets to be distributed after your passing. Other than the distribution of property, you can state your wishes on the care of minors, if any, or any other dependents you might have. One of the primary reasons it’s advisable to have a will is that you can maintain control over your assets even after passing away. 

When deciding to write a will, a factor you’ll have to consider is whether you’d prefer an online will or a paper one. Though both types effectively relay your wishes, they’re significantly different. You can consult a probate attorney if you’re unsure of the most appropriate form of will to use. 

While wills used to be mostly paper, technological advancement has introduced the era of online wills. You can now easily draft a will using an online template and store it in digital format. An online will might be a more appealing option for you since it’s easy to prepare. But if you need professional assistance, then you may want to write a paper will instead.  

Read on to learn about the differences between online and paper wills.

Difference Between An Online And A Paper Will

1. Access to will

Many Americans, about 68% of them, pass away without leaving a will mainly because of the inability to access legal services. But with the availability of online wills, will-writing has become more convenient. You can access online wills from anywhere, without paying for legal services or booking an appointment that might take a long time. Plus, you can draft an online will from the comfort of your home anytime.

On the other hand, you’ll have to go to an attorney’s office to have a paper will drafted. You book an appointment and discuss your estate and expectations with an attorney. Your lawyer will explain all the legal requirements and ascertain your will’s validity. 

2. Ease of creation

Online wills are simple and easy to create because they take the form of a template. You’ll find instructions and guidance on websites that offer online wills, which makes the process easy. In addition, documents can be downloaded and printed for signing and witnessing. An online will even gives a sense of privacy since no one will be asking you questions about how you’ll distribute your assets.

A paper will is a bit complex since it considers various issues, such as your capacity to draft a will and the estate you’ll be leaving behind. An attorney will need to take account of what bequests or gifts you might have already given or are planning to give. You’ll have to respond to all the questions and issues that may be raised by your attorney. However, a paper will is more detailed compared with an online one. 

3. Adaptation to changes in the law

One of the greatest advantages of online wills is that they can be easily updated to conform with changes in the law. Online templates are created through consultations with legal practitioners to ensure that they work with the present state of laws. And if you need to make changes to your will, there’s no need to start from scratch.

In comparison, you’ll have to begin again if you need to modify a paper will. Though paper wills are drafted to conform to laws, any changes in the law render them invalid, so you’ll have to redraft one. However, you don’t have to worry about your will being invalidated because your attorney will be responsible for keeping you updated.

4. Validity of wills

An online will can mislead you into believing it’s valid once you fill in the details in the template. But preparing an online will and leaving it as is after providing the necessary information isn’t legally binding and can’t be used to make a legal claim. This means an online will isn’t entirely paperless because you’ll still need to download and print it for signing and witnessing. 

On the other hand, an attorney will make a paper will based on your instructions and all legal requirements. A paper will is valid once executed and filed in the appropriate department. The legal procedures followed in drafting a paper will make it binding on the testator, beneficiaries, and executor.

5. Cost-effectiveness

Online wills are cost-effective because you don’t have to seek the services of an attorney. On top of that, other costs, such as consultation fees and transport, don’t apply to online wills because you can just draft one at home. Hence, they’re a popular option.

Unlike online wills, paper wills are expensive because of attorney fees. So, if you’re planning on having a paper will, you’ll have to factor in consultation fees of an attorney and the cost of drafting a will. While attorney’s rates can differ, some attorneys charge around USD$100 to USD$300 per hour for drafting a paper will. Furthermore, a standard will costs between USD$300 to USD$1,000


Though online and paper wills differ, they serve the same purpose: to convey your wishes regarding the distribution of your property. You can go for an online will, an option that’s more convenient and affordable. But if you need some guidance, a paper will is going to be a better fit for you. 

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