With all of the vast information on the internet, there are several places online where one can acquire estate planning forms. There are several reasons to avoid online self-help estate planning.
- They are blanket forms and not jurisdiction specific. Each jurisdictional state has different requirements for proper execution of estate planning documents. In addition, each state requires specific language to be included in specific estate planning documents.
- No assurance that you selected the correct document for your circumstances and needs
- You do not have a dedicated attorney assisting you with the creation of your estate planning documents to make sure it meets your needs and is in conformity with the legal requirements in your specific state. Further, you do not have an attorney reviewing your documents before they are executed, again to make sure it is in accordance with your wishes and needs. More specifically, you do not have an attorney to consult regarding any questions you may through the estate planning preparation and execution process.
- You will not be receiving any legal advice whatsoever, so you will be in the dark as to what needs to be included in your estate planning documents to meet your specific circumstances. For example, if you are seeking to have a Power of Attorney prepared, if certain vital areas are not covered in your documentation and/or it is deemed to be completely invalid, once it becomes necessary to utilize the Power of Attorney due to you incompetency or incapacity, you will not be able to rectify the situation yourself. Your family will have to go through the long process of having a Guardian appointed on your behalf, which involves filing a petition, examination by a three person medical professionals, and having a jury trial, all of which can take a minimum of four to six months and can be quite costly. Another example would be if you are seeking to prepare a Last Will and Testament. Likewise, if it is not prepared properly to convey your specific wishes and/or it is deemed invalid by the Probate Court upon your death, your spouse, children, grandchildren, and other loved ones may not be provided for you had planned. Of even greater concern would be if you have children who are still minors at the time of your death and you had provisions in your Last Will and Testament for a Guardian, however, your Last Will and Testament was deemed invalid by the Probate Court. This would then involve a family member or friend having to file an action with the Court to be appointed Guardian, however, they may not have been the individual you would have chosen as Guardian of your children.
- Online estate planning forms usually cannot be customized for your specific needs. They are blanket forms that usually just cover the minimum and do not provide for special language to be included to meet the specific needs for you and your family.
The bottom line is that you are gambling with your legacy by using online estate planning services instead of receiving full and comprehensive services by an estate planning attorney licensed for the state in which you reside.