A just-published ElderLawAnswers study of three web-based estate planning document preparation companies concludes that while these do-it-yourself websites will allow you to inexpensively create estate planning documents, they are no substitute for a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.
As discussed in this white paper, the authors reviewed three of the most popular do-it-yourself websites. While each of these websites allows the user to create estate planning documents that may in fact be valid, the White Paper confirms that they are no substitute for an experienced estate planning attorneys' guidance and counsel.
Given that I'm an estate planning attorney, am I biased? Guilty as charged! But experience tells me that those people for whom the cost of "the documents" is the paramount concern would never pay for the advice, counsel and experience that I bring to the table. While their "up front" cost will certainly be less than my design and counseling fee, the overall cost of their estate plan -- factoring in the up front costs, funding costs, maintenance costs and settlement costs -- will typically be more than the overall fee that would be charged by our firm for all of those planning "steps." And, for all the reasons stated in the White Paper, clients who work with an experienced estate planning attorney to create an customized estate plan will receive results that are superior to those received from a do-it-yourself online estate plan.