The internet has changed so much of our day-to-day lives that we often rely on it when we really shouldn’t. If you’re beginning the estate planning process, you may be tempted to try out one of the many internet services or e-lawyering providers out there. These companies often offer to make your Will for you, establish a Trust or provide other services that attorneys usually provide. Use these providers with extreme caution.
Errors. There are any number of potential errors that arise when you use an do-it-yourself legal service. For example, a review of one company’s Will creation software revealed 22 errors. The Will software mistakes included complete omissions of vital information, contradictions within the Will, mistakes about the changes in the law and even parts that were specifically prohibited by state law.
Competency. Unlike an attorney, companies that sell you pre-made Wills, Powers of Attorney or books and materials about estate planning do not face significant penalties if they make a mistake. Your lawyer does. Your estate planning attorney has a legal duty to provide you with sound, competent advice. If he or she doesn’t, the attorney’s career could be in jeopardy. In other words, an attorney has a legal obligation to provide you with good advice, while internet legal products do not.
Education. One great way to use the internet is to bolster your own knowledge about estate planning. But don’t let this introduction to estate planning give you false confidence. An experienced attorney has years of education and experience and stays current on all the relevant laws, not just the bullet-pointed highlights.