Why Using an Attorney Instead
of Online Forms Is Important
June 10, 2022
We’ve all seen or heard ads for online services where, for a modest fee, you can create your own estate planning document, whether it be a will, a trust, or both. While the price is attractive and the process seems simple enough, as with all matters in life, the devil lies in the details.
Will these documents achieve the legal standards required for your will or trust to be honored as enforceable? After all, you’re the one filling in the blanks, and if your wording is vague or somehow not up to legal standards, your estate may be left in limbo when you’re gone, even if your intentions were the best in the world.
Every person is unique, and to think a do-it-yourself document can cover all the hopes, dreams, and wishes of every person who uses it is to expect too much. Creating a will or trust on your own is almost like self-diagnosing yourself when you suddenly fall terribly sick. You may get it right, but the odds are against you. You need professional advice when it comes to your own health and also when it comes to your estate planning needs.
If you’re in or around Long Island, New York, or in the neighboring areas of Bellmore, Nassau County, and Suffolk County, contact Lawrence M. Gordon, Attorney at Law, PC. I have nearly 50 years of experience in helping others create estate plans that meet all legal requirements and provide rock-solid peace of mind for you and yours.
Why Estate Planning Is Important
Surveys show that fewer than 40 percent of adult Americans have even a last will and testament in place to care for their loved ones when they’re gone. When those without wills are asked why, some say “I don’t know how” and others, “I don’t have enough assets.”
“Don’t know how” is simply solved by visiting an estate planning attorney. As for “not enough assets,” that’s rarely the case. Every working adult creates an estate with assets that can be passed on, whether it’s real property, cash, investments, or even family mementos and heirlooms.
If you don’t create a legal document for the distribution of your assets once you’re gone, the state will do so for you, using what it calls its laws of intestacy, or laws of inheritance. Meanwhile, your loved ones will be tied up in probate court awaiting a judge’s decision on who gets what. Don’t put your family and loved ones in a situation like that.
Online Forms vs. Using an Estate Planning Attorney
First off, if you go to an online estate planning document site, you’ll no doubt find a disclaimer like this one from LegalZoom, one of the largest and earliest of these sites:
“We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.”
In other words, you’re on your own, and if you choose the wrong form or fill it out incompletely or erroneously, there is no one who is going to tell you that your will and its instructions are not legally enforceable.
In addition to putting yourself at risk for errors and omissions that can come back to haunt you and your loved ones, these forms are not always state-specific. The form you download may be fine for Georgia, for instance, but where you live may have other requirements.
Making modifications is also something that DIY forms do not easily provide for. Say your life changes. You get divorced and remarried, or you want to add a new beneficiary. Most likely, you’ll have to start all over again with the downloadable form.
If you start the whole estate planning process with a knowledgeable attorney, you can easily update your will or trust whenever you need to. Having an attorney who has a copy of your will or trust also serves as an important backup if disputes arise when your estate enters the administration process once you’re gone.
If your heirs are arguing over the validity of your will in probate court, and you self-executed the document, you will have no one around who can testify to your intent. If you complete your will with an attorney, the attorney will not only have a copy of the legal instrument but can also testify as to your intentions when crafting it.
Rely on Compassionate and Comprehensive Legal Counsel
Staring at a fill-in-the-blanks form and wondering what exactly to do with it can be challenging enough, but when the future of your family and loved ones is on the line, you should choose the safest, most reassuring route by contacting an estate planning attorney.
In my nearly 50 years of helping others with their estate plans, I have always provided compassionate and comprehensive service to make sure all their wishes are conveyed legally and enforceably to provide their loved ones with ultimate peace of mind.
If you’re in Long Island, New York, or in any neighboring communities or counties, contact Lawrence M. Gordon, Attorney at Law, PC for all your estate planning needs.