LegalZoom v Attorney. Product v. Service. Understand what you're buying.

1. You get what you pay for.

Yes, LegalZoom may cost $350 for you and your spouse to have a Will and other documents delivered to your email inbox. Yes, an attorney likely costs double that amount for the same services. But do you understand why those documents are so essential? Do you understand what the provisions within the documents mean? Are you confident that they are correct? If you answered "no" to any of those questions, then you may be leaving it all to chance. 

2. DIY Legal Companies are selling you a product.

This product is one that they "guarantee" is the right product. Does it meet your specific needs? Does it take into consideration common concerns, i.e. blended families, estate tax planning, caring for minor children, real estate held in other states, specificities regarding retirement accounts, etc? You will truly never know until it's too late. 

In contrast, an attorney is providing you a service that doesn't end with the drafting of the documents. It is a service based upon proper schooling, knowledge, and experience. It is a service that most attorneys are passionate about. They are with you at the beginning planning stages. They are with you every few years to review changes in the laws and significant events that have happened in your life. And they are often with you or your family when the inevitable happens and a loved one passes away. They relish the "value added" components of drafting your estate planning documents, in that they get to build a long-term relationship with you and your family. 

3. If the Will isn't valid, the State decides.

If your DIY Will ends up not being valid under state law, then the state you live in decides where your stuff goes. Who do you trust more to get it "right"? Yourself or the state? 

Similarly, if the Will is valid but has major errors or items that were never considered in your specific plan, I can tell you from experience that it costs much more to try to fix it after your death then to do it right the first time.

These are just a few things to consider when deciding whether to create your Will on your own. At the very least, talk with an estate planning attorney (most give free consultations!) and learn whether you can take the risk of a DIY Estate Plan.

Please remember, this post provides educational information only and in no way constitutes legal advice.

Written by Jennifer A. Rutz