These days it seems you can do just about anything on the internet. So why not do estate planning? Just download some forms, follow the worksheet, fill in the blanks, and be good to go?
When it comes to leaving your life savings to those you love, you should be more confident that your heirs will actually receive what you want them to get. Using internet forms, you could inadvertently disinherit someone, or your heirs could end up having to spend thousands in court proceedings that should have been avoided. Estate-planning mistakes can be serious and they may not show up until it’s too late to fix them easily. This is why it’s prudent to use the internet only to find a lawyer whom you trust. Not for DIY purposes.
Information on the internet may not be accurate. Or the information you find may not fit your specific situation. Or, the law is in ferment these days and the article you’re relying on may not be up-to-date.
Information may not be comprehensive enough. What if your loved one has special needs? Have you thought what could be done to protect heirs who may be struggling with bankruptcy or divorce issues? What if you need long-term health care but, without careful planning, the expense could eat up your entire estate?
Legal requirements can be precise. If your downloaded documents don’t actually work in the long run, they may give you a false sense of security. You may never know that your documents won’t do what you wanted them to. Or, if you do find out in time, it can be more expensive to fix errors than to avoid them in the first place.
You won’t get the advice you need when you need it. On-line companies may provide attorneys to assist you, but you must first buy the product. Without guidance up front, the product you pay for may not do the job.
Do you really want to rely on customer support? What if you can’t download the document? The internet crashes? You need help to correct mistakes like misspellings?
A lawyer, on the other hand, will meet with you in person. You will be telling your story to a human being in the room with you, devoting his or her attention to you. Facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language can be eloquent. Yours may cue your attorney to ask more questions, to get the fullest picture of your situation. Your lawyer will explain your options and will make sure you understand the pros and cons of each. You will be beginning a relationship with a professional who will guide you through some of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.
Try that with a computer!