Most people understand that a will is critical for all adults. Without one, your assets will likely go into a probate court, an often long and expensive process by which a court will distribute your assets according to state law (and in spite of whatever wishes or statements you had made regarding distribution), while your family and beneficiaries see their potential assets siphoned away by attorney fees and court costs. At the same time, we all want to save a buck, and so DIY will services such as LegalZoom can be tempting as they offer kits that claim to allow you to create a will for under $100. But are they worth it? Be aware of the dangers of placing your life’s assets in the hands of an downloadable form from the internet.
BY DEFINITION, DIY SERVICES DO NOT AND CANNOT OFFER LEGAL ADVICE
Although LegalZoom and services like it do have the world “legal” in their names, they are not offering legal advice, which they admit. Nor can they.
Legal services are strictly regulated by state bar associations to ensure that only properly educated, tested, and ethically proven attorneys may give legal advice to residents of those states. And for good reason, as there is a great amount of trust and responsibility in the relationship of an attorney providing tailored legal advice to help a client reach his or her estate planning goals.
Ultimately DIY legal services are merely downloadable forms that you need to fill out on your own without any significant sense of the applicable law or potential consequences. Furthermore, many of the forms can be easily accessed for free online.
AN ONLINE FORM CAN’T ASK YOU PROBING QUESTIONS
Creating a will is not about filling in blanks on a form. It is about understanding your state’s probate laws and creating a valid, enforceable, and effective legal document that takes into account the full inventory of your assets, both now and in the future, your beneficiaries, and state law. Many states have particular laws regarding who must receive distribution from an estate, and many individuals have assets that cannot pass to beneficiaries via a will.
By working with an attorney who can ask you the probing questions regarding your assets and beneficiaries, you can create a will that holds up in court and cleanly and seamlessly distributes your assets.
LAWS CHANGE, AND SO DO YOUR ASSETS AND BENEFICIARIES
State law on wills and probate are not fixed in time forever, and consumer reviews indicate that a number of DIY will services fail to keep up with important changes in the law, according to legal experts. And even if the DIY will service is currently accurate, it may not take into account future changes in the law and update you accordingly in the same way an estate planning attorney can.
Furthermore, people commonly choose to update their wills over the years to reflect new or lost assets, as well as new additions to their family. An estate planning attorney can guide you through all the changes to come.
YOU MAY BE MISSING OUT ON HUGE ESTATE PLANNING BENEFITS
Finally, a will is often just the start of a robust estate planning plan. A will can distribute your assets, but it cannot provide you further benefits such as protection of assets, avoidance of tax consequences both during your life and after, and direction of your assets toward specific goals such as education and charitable causes. An estate planning attorney can provide a comprehensive picture of the estate planning tools at your disposal to achieve your objective.
CONTACT RYAN MYNARD TODAY ABOUT CREATING YOUR FLORIDA WILL OR CODICIL
To being the process of creating or updating a Florida will or codicil – or to speak about any estate planning questions or concerns you have – contact Florida estate planning attorney Ryan Mynard at +1-850-683-3940 today to get started.