Estate Planning

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      We occasionally receive inquiries asking about our estate planning services and then trying to compare our quoted price to that of a self-help provider, such as LegalZoom. But does LegalZoom really provide you with the protection you need for your family?

      According to LegalZoom’s website, you can “Save time and money on common legal matters! Created by top attorneys, LegalZoom helps you make reliable legal documents from your home or office. Simply answer a few questions online and your documents will be created within 48 hours. We even review your answers and guarantee your satisfaction.”

       Apparently not all their customers are satisfied, as a recent lawsuit shows. To summarize the claim, in July 2007 Ms. Webster was asked by her uncle, who was terminally ill, to help him write a Last Will and Testament and Revocable Living Trust using LegalZoom. However, once the LegalZoom documents were created and signed, Mr. Ferrantino's assets could not be funded into the LegalZoom Revocable Living Trust “because the financial institutions that held his money refused to accept the LegalZoom documents as valid. Ms. Webster tried to get help from LegalZoom, with no success. The trust was still not funded when Mr. Ferrantino died in November 2007.”

      Rather than paying for an experienced estate planning attorney, the Plaintiff opted to save some money and use self-help services. Undoubtedly, any savings is more than wiped out due to the increased legal fees required to the probate of his estate.

      LegalZoom (which is promoted by a criminal attorney, who would never suggest that his services would be better replicated by a website) offers generic documents and relies on individuals to know what their best option is, without the options being explained by an attorney. No computer algorithm can address the unique circumstances that are presented to each family. Nor can they ensure that the documents are executed properly.

      Individuals and families are far better off by hiring experienced estate planning attorneys to prepare an estate plan that meets their needs in the beginning. Otherwise, it will be the heirs hiring attorneys to litigate the mistakes made (at far greater cost) with no assurance that the decedent’s final wishes are ultimately carried out.