Why Do-It-Yourself Wills/Trusts Are Potential Disasters In The Making

It is quite easy these days to find a Will or Trust DIY form on the internet. There are also companies, such as Legal Zoom, which offer to prepare Wills and Trusts at prices less than the typical attorney charges. Potential clients sometimes ask me why do they need a lawyer to prepare these documents, as it appears so simple, and forms are easily available.

If there ever were a perfect example of the saying "pennywise and pound foolish", this is it. First, the difference in savings is minimal. My office provides a Will Package consisting of a Will, Power of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designation, and a Living Will for $400 for an individual, and $500 for a couple. Secondly, and more importantly, none of this is as simple as it may appear. A "simple will" is only simple because the preparer has the knowledge to understand what is appropriate for the maker of that Will in the particular state where that person resides. Like with most things, it is not what you know that is the problem, but what you do not know.

A seemingly minor factor could have a dramatic effect. DIY or Legal Zoom Wills may be adequate 80 percent, 90 percent, or maybe even 95 percent of the time. The big risk is for that group of individuals or couples for whom the DIY or Legal Zoom product is not appropriate. And you, not being a knowledgeable attorney, do not know if you are in that group, headed for a disaster.

Your family will find out if you made a big mistake but only after you’re gone and it is too late to fix. So to save at most a few hundred dollars, you risk a potentially huge problem caused by an improperly drawn Will or Trust. The problem might be relatively easy to fix after your death or it may not. But again, you won’t know; but your family will learn if you were "pennywise and pound foolish" after you are gone.

To me, preparing Wills and Trusts is not an area where an effort to save a few hundred dollars makes sense. It’s like trying to be your own doctor. Too much is at risk. Lawyers go to law school and spend years learning the law. I have 38 years of experience and the highest lawyer rating (Martindale-Hubbell AV), and proven expertise in the area of Wills and Trust. Wouldn’t you rather have me prepare your estate planning documents to insure the protection of your family?