By now, you have probably heard that you can obtain many common legal services using automated or automated/manual hybrid solutions through some ‘virtual lawyer’ companies. These companies can be very cost-effective for certain things; a good example is getting an LLC off the ground or whipping up a lease agreement for a new tenant.
But what about estate planning?
It seems that more and more these days, people are opting for the more convenient and cheaper method of drafting wills, assigning Powers of Attorney, and more, all online. In some cases, certain legal ‘services’ can be provided without so much as a phone call or email exchange with an actual attorney.
With as inexpensive as these services can be, it has a lot of people wondering, “What am I not getting by paying so little?”.
It’s a good question to ask. And, the legal team at Kokish and Goldmanis, PC is here with some answers.
In this article, we’re exploring the top three reasons why so many popular online legal services providers actually fall short in the realm of estate planning.
1: Online Legal Services Providers Almost Never Specialize
Any online legal services provider that wants to remain in business and maintain profitability is going to have a much harder time doing so if all they do is estate planning.
The most commonly used legal services websites like LegalZoom and others depend on being able to offer a broad, varied suite of legal services. This includes services like LLC and other business formation services, intellectual property-related services, and more. Because these companies only offer estate planning as a kind of ‘a-la-carte’ service, you’re much less likely to get high-quality, customized legal attention that puts your needs above the needs of the company.
This is where the value of a firm like ours comes in. Our attorneys specialize in estate planning, real estate, and business law. That’s it. We don’t handle criminal representation cases, and we’re not specifically tax attorneys. Because our focus is more confined, we offer more tenured and informed legal advice for our clients.
2: Online Legal Services May Not Even Involve an Attorney
One of the most commonly cited reasons people give for working with online legal services providers is the immediacy with which they can obtain legal documents like wills, real estate contracts, and more.
It’s important to remember that you get what you pay for when you want something fast and boilerplate. While you might wind up spending less than $100 for a will, that will may not ever be read by an actual attorney who has your best interest in mind.
Now, this might be a great fit for some people. But, for those with nuanced or complicated estates, a boilerplate estate plan just isn’t going to cut it. It’s actually shocking for many people to learn that, in using an online legal services provider, it’s likely that an attorney is never going to actually interact with you, ask you questions, or add any kind of value whatsoever.
Remember: online legal services don’t always involve real attorneys, so buyer beware.
3: ‘Virtual’ Legal Services Providers May Actually Cost More
Consider Jessica’s story.
Jessica’s mother passed away after choosing LegalZoom to draft a will. Her mother’s intent was to save money while still ensuring that her estate would be handled in a way that she deemed appropriate.
The will was well-written and, at first pass, it seemed like it reflected her mother’s wishes. However, there were a few critical clauses that were left out—clauses that would have streamlined the asset distribution process.
As a result, Jessica had to hire an attorney to help probate her mother’s estate, which wound up costing thousands more than it would have cost if Jessica’s mother would have hired an attorney to draft her will in the first place.
Unfortunately, stories like Jessica’s are quite common. Even though something as simple as a will can often be just a few pages long, it is a legally binding document that deserves careful attention to detail from a qualified, human legal professional.
Start Your Estate Planning Conversation with Us, Today
Are you still on the fence about using an online services provider over and above a local law firm? Think it’s a ‘safe’ bet?
Let Kokish and Goldmanis, PC show you why you simply get more from real attorneys when it comes to estate planning. To schedule a consultation, contact our offices today.