Technology is an amazing thing. It gives us information at the push of a button that we could only get previously by scouring volumes of books at a local library. This includes information about the law. Generally, easy access to legal resources and information is a good thing, but there is a potential downside that comes with this easy access to information, and that is the temptation to handle serious legal matters without the help of an attorney.
Case-in-point are services like Legalzoom, whose business model is premised on the idea that preparing legal documents is nothing more than filling in the blanks of pre-made forms, but that’s just not true. In the case of estate planning, our Reno estate planning attorney is not just filling out forms for our clients. He is advising them on their options, helping them choose the best option for their needs, drafting estate planning documents that are customized to their particular situation, making sure everything is properly executed and recorded, advising them if an issue comes up in the future – and the list goes on and on.
At Cross Law, we pride ourself on building personal relationships with our clients and seeing them through the development of their estate plan and the future well-being of their family. Legalzoom simply can’t compete in that regard, not to mention how many clients we’ve have helped after they tried to “do it themselves” and realized too late in the game that they didn’t know enough about the law do it themselves.
Here is a blog post from another attorney’s website that sums it up pretty well:
I think that people generally have a tendency to underestimate the work that goes into the preparation of an estate plan, it requires a great deal more than simply printing off forms. LegalZoom and other such services reinforce the opinion that estate planning may easily be accomplished by generating simple forms, but if you are considering the use of such services, you should look closely at the service provider’s disclaimer. You will likely see, as in the case of LegalZoom, that the service provider is not serving as your attorney, does not review the documents you prepare for legal sufficiency and does not guarantee that the documents are correct. Preparing estate planning documents without the benefit of a legal opinion may result in unintended consequences that may be costly to correct in the future. In my experience, the vast majority of clients engage in estate planning to gain a sense of reassurance that their family will be cared for after their death in the manner that the client thinks is most appropriate, to pay for documents to be prepared without receiving the benefit of legal advice may undermine the entire purpose of the planning in the first place.
So, if you’re considering using LegalZoom for your estate planning documents, consider the fact that estate planning for your loved ones, not yourself. You owe it to them to make sure everything is done correctly the first time.