There are several websites that offer the creation of legal documents, such as wills, trusts, and business creation documents, for a far cheaper price than it would cost to hire an attorney. Hiring an attorney to draft your will or trust is expensive, and no estate planning attorney will tell you otherwise. However, they will tell you that it is worth it, because as great as these online legal services seem, they truly are too good to be true. Saving money now with one of these services could end up costing you and your family far more money down the road than it would have cost you to hire an estate planning attorney to get it right the first time.
For starters, the fact of the matter is that no matter what these online services promote, they are not law firms. They are not even run by lawyers, so they cannot legally give legal advice. All these services do is plug your information into generic form documents. They do not customize your will or trust for your specific needs. If you make a mistake, they cannot stop you or even warn you, as that would be giving legal advice.
Because they cannot give legal advice, these services typically design their forms so that it’s hard to make a mistake. While that sounds like a great idea, the reason why it’s hard to make a mistake is because the forms are so generic they are literally a one-size-fits-all. So you can’t set up a Special Needs Trust that guarantees your child can still claim government rights with one of these forms. You can’t set up a will or a trust with specific instructions for how your assets needs to be handled.
Online services cannot guarantee that anything you put in your will or trust is legally viable. They cannot guarantee that they will hold up in a court of law. They cannot point out opportunities, and they cannot warn you about hidden pitfalls. All an online service can do for you is save you money.
However, how much money have you really saved if your will or trust has an egregious error that must be fixed during a court proceeding? Your family could end up spending your estate trying to clean up the mess.
Your estate plan is essentially your legacy and your life savings for your family. It’s not worth the risk of ruining your estate plan for your family just to save some money now. It’s best to spend some more money now and hire an attorney to get the guaranteed estate plan you and your family deserve.