As Amazon.com gains market share each holiday season, we keep observing the Internet offering faster, better, and cheaper solutions for the goods and services that we purchase.
But some Internet purchases remain unwise. Consumers who purchase wills, trusts, and other estate documents online in an attempt to save money frequently risk their life savings to inferior products.
Why are online estate document services inferior? See the following three reasons below:
- Legal Advice is Prohibited. Because there is no state licensed attorney involved, Internet legal sites are prohibited from providing legal advice. When you are trying to protect your life savings with a will or trust, the first thing required is legal advice tailored to your particular needs and circumstances. But by law, the Internet legal sites are prohibited from giving you the personal legal advice that you need.
- Only Form Documents are Provided. The Internet legal services are known merely as “document assistants,” which primarily only let the customer fill out generic form documents. Such forms are frequently not tailored to the customer’s individual needs or circumstances.
- Your Internet Forms May Not Work. Consumers seeking a will and or trust need documents that will properly distribute a lifetime of savings to chosen beneficiaries. Unfortunately, most consumers only get one chance to get their will right.
Internet forms do not even promise to work when needed. They may not be in compliance with state law, and they may include significant mistakes or oversights. Because no legal advice is given, the Internet legal companies cannot promise a particular legal result, or even that your documents will work.
If wills, trusts, or other estate documents are not drafted properly, lawyers will need to be hired later to clean up the mess, at great expense to your estate and your family. In addition, improperly drafted estate documents may lead to family arguments, which in turn may lead to expensive litigation. It is almost always more cost effective to use a licensed attorney to draft estate documents properly in the beginning, than to clean up a mess later resulting from improper Internet form estate documents.
If you have a toothache, you will probably turn to your dentist, and not the Internet for dental work, right? It makes just as much sense to use a licensed estate planning attorney to develop your critical estate documents, instead of placing your trust in generic form documents from the Internet that might not work when needed.
Source: David Hiersekorn, Can You Trust Your Trust? Why an Online Will or Trust Could Be the Dumbest Mistake You Ever Make, EstatePlanning.com (May 15, 2012), https://www.estateplanning.com/Should-You-Trust-Online-Legal-Document-Services/.