Wednesday, December 16, 2009
WHY USE AN ATTORNEY VS. AN ONLINE SITE TO CREATE AN ESTATE PLAN
The main reason to work with an qualified estate planning attorney to create an estate plan rather than go online and download a form is ADVICE & RELATIONSHIP.
Online websites which sell living trusts offer NO advice on the development of a comprehensive estate plan. In fact, all of the websites selling legal documents state clearly that the use of the site does not include legal advice, and if you need legal advice, you need to talk to a lawyer.
There is so much more to an estate plan than taking a boiler-plate document and filling in the blanks. And good luck when you have a question later on, or you need to amend your estate plan.
Which leads me to the second part of the answer above: relationship! Having a relationship with a good estate planning attorney gives you a live person to call when you have questions, and when life circumstances change, and you need to amend the trust and estate plan, online sites just fail in that regard.
Most people who use online legal websites are just trying to avoid paying attorney's fees. But, those sites are really not very cost effective compared to the average fees charged to create an estate plan.
When you look at one of the most popular legal websites, by the time you pay the base fee, the additional fees, and then you have to take the documents to a Notary Public (in California, 5 documents X 2 people X $10 = an additional $100), you may have saved $200-$300 dollars.
I spend on average 1-2 hours with clients on the initial consultation, and an additonal 1-2 hours during the signing in which I explain the documents in detail.
You may save $200 by going online, but you don't get 2-4 hours of face-to-face advice and counseling from a qualified lawyer.
And good luck if you make a mistake online, push the wrong key, and end up with a document that doesn't work.
Remember that a computer program will not answer your calls when you have a future problem or you need to make changes to your estate plan.
More information about trusts and estates can be found on my website:
DWIGHT EDWARD TOMPKINS
Attorney at Law
This blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice from a qualified estate planning attorney in your jurisdiction.
I help people protect their families through affordable, personalized estate planning. Tompkins-Law.com I am in solo practice in Orange County, California where I focus on estate planning, family trusts, living trusts, wills, corporations and business succession planning. I speak Spanish and serve the latino community. Fideicomisos-Testamentos.com