Category: Lawyers

online estate planning

The Top 3 Reasons Why Online Estate Planning Services Fall Short

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.

estate planning online

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.

Resolve to Complete Your Estate Plan

The new year brings excitement, opportunity and resolutions. Often people resolve to complete their estate plan in the coming year. Given that most people do not have a current, integrated and HIPAA compliant plan, that is a great resolution.

So how do you get started? Start by watching this video, especially if you have a family:

Your goal should be to have an integrated and HIPAA compliant plan. To learn what plan is right for you and your family, call our office today at 303-688-3535 to schedule your in depth estat planning assessment. You’ll be glad you did.

The Gift of Estate Planning

HIPAA Compliance

Many articles have been published about the gift of estate planning. In fact, it is one of the most important gifts you can give to your family and loved ones. A well crafted estate plan represents part of your legacy and how you will be remembered. How you would like to be remembered when you are gone and does your estate plan reflect those wishes?

Why can estate planning be such important gift for your family? Consider these benefits your family receives from your well thought out plan:

1. Protection for your spouse from creditors and predators. Are you leaving a plan which exposes your spouse to risk or protects them?

2. Protection of children from the over indulgence of youth, protection from creditors and protection against predators. Does your plan for your children provide these protections?

3. Inclusion of grandchildren or other family members who are disabled. Such issues should be considered in every plan. Are they addressed i yours?

4. Asset and probate planning. Do your assets create problems and are these issues addressed in your estate plan?

5. HIPAA compliance. Protection of your health information is important in our electronic age. Is your entire plan and all documents HIPAA compliant? If not it needs to be.

6. How recently have your reviewed your plan? Plans older than 5-7 years may create unexpected traps and negative results for your family. Has your plan been reviewed recently?

Does your current plan provide these benefits to your family? Now you know why estate planning is one of the best gifts for your family not only at the holiday season but also year round.

The Importance of Proper Beneficiary Designations

In estate planning the details matter. In fact they matter so much that the tiniest of details can derail your entire plan. A good example of that is your beneficiary designations.

Family Lawyer Castle Rock

Beneficiary designations can be on things like bank accounts, insurance policies, IRA’s and brokerage accounts. The key question is are your beneficiary designations synchronized with your estate plan? If they are not then your estate plan can fail.

To avoid the inadvertent failure of your plan, work with your estate planning attorney to check each beneficiary designation to ensure coordination with your estate plan.

Protect Yourself and Family from Scams and Fraud

Foreign Hackers

Our firm is located in Castle Rock, Colorado, currently rated as one of the most desirable places to live in the U.S. As our community has grown it has attracted an assortment of scammers, fraudsters and con-artists. Each year we publish an article on the latest tips you can use to protect your family and yourself from getting scammed. Here is our 2019 update on avoiding fraud and cons.

Here are some of the latest frauds to watch out for:

1) Fake families begging at local stores.
2) Fake notices on obtaining recorded documents about real estate.
3) The ever popular robo call now also on your cell phone.
4) Skimming machines at local gas stations.
5) In good weather the always annoying door to door sales person.
6) Internet scams now appearing on your facebook and twitter pages and in the groups you follow there.

There are many more and scammers get bolder and more sophisticated each day. Your job, with these tips is to outsmart the con-artists. Here are several tips to use:

1) Any time and in any place that you feel threatened or uncomfortable, call the police or sheriff’s office. Nothing makes rats run away faster than the cops arriving.

2) If you are unsure about an offer or sales person, check them out before signing anything or giving them money. Use these links to get more detailed tips:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0060-10-things-you-can-do-avoid-fraud

https://www.bbb.org/avoidscams/

https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/get-help/protect-yourself-from-scams

3) Ask your lawyer or CPA for their opinion before you hand your hard earned money over to someone. Your lawyer and CPA owe you what is called “fiduciary care” so they are required to have your interest paramount.

4) As hard as this may be to do, NEVER EVER give money to someone who is begging at the store. If you fail to follow this rule you will probably see that fake family at the car dealer buying their next car with your money!

5) As fun as it is to follow advice on facebook, twitter and nextdoor, don’t buy ANYTHING just because you see it there. I recently purchased a tool for my bike on facebook and, to my total dismay it was a total piece of garbage and I should have known better!

The basis rule in our law is Caveat Emptor. This means that only you can prevent fraud and only you are the best means to protect yourself from scams and con-artists. Remember this: Be careful out there!

3 (Of Many) Reasons Why Estate Planning is Not Only for the Wealthy

Before I became an estate planning, I did not fully understand the importance of having an estate plan.  I thought that estate planning was only for the wealthy.  Nothing can be further from the truth!
So, here are 3 reasons why you should consider meeting with an estate planning attorney, regardless of your wealth:
1. You have children under the age of 18.
A good estate plan protects your children from an uncertain future.  For example, a comprehensive estate plan for families with young children will include an Appointment of Guardian, which allows you to nominate a guardian to care for your children when you die or become incapacitated and are unable to care for them.  They also include an Authorization for Care of Minor Children, which allows you to appoint an another adult to temporarily care for and make decisions on behalf of your minor children when you are on vacation, unavailable, or become incapacitated.
2. To appoint decision makers to take care of you and your finances should you become unable to do so.
Not all estate planning concerns death.  For example, power of attorney documents are important estate planning tools.  These documents allow you to name people you trust (agents) to make medical and financial decisions for you while you alive, but are unable, or don’t want to, make such decisions for yourself.
3. The State in which you live has already created an estate plan for you.
All 50 states, and the District of Columbia, have laws that dictate how your property will be distributed after you die.  These laws are called the laws of intestacy and apply when you die without a will.  These laws may not match how you want your property to be distributed after your death.
Greta Suneson

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K&G Attorney Named 2019 Castle Rock Citizen of the Year

K&G happily announces that the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce has named K&G partner Bernie Greenberg as the 2019 Castle Rock Citizen of the Year. Bernie’s involvement in the local community is extensive as he has a long list of community service and is the 2019-2020 Chair of the Castle Rock Chamber Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity which provides public education in business, economics and civics. Congratulations to Bernie Greenberg!