Dangers of “Do It Yourself” Estate Planning

Creating a legally valid estate plan requires careful planning and consultation with your attorney. The prevalence of online legal services has led many people to believe they can create legal documents cheaply and those documents will be just as effective as if they had visited an estate planning attorney. The majority of the time this is wrong. Usually when I see these will forms, they are not executed in compliance with Arizona law and are invalid.
Initially, if you think all you need is a “simple” will or trust, these online services can be tempting. However, while going it alone with a book or a form may save you money now, it likely will cost you and your loves ones more in the future.
Online sites offering “estate plans” are little more than document mills that churn out the same generic forms over and over. They are not attorneys and cannot advise or warn you if you make a mistake. Plus, who will be there for your family when something happens to you if you’ve used an online document drafting service?
One size doesn’t fit all; your family is different from everyone else’s family. Just like every state has different inheritance laws, every family has different situations. An online form will not help you protect a child or relative with special needs, or protect a child’s inheritance from creditors or a nasty divorce. An online form cannot tell you how to protect assets from taxes or help you achieve your financial or charitable goals.
An estate planning attorney creates an entire plan tailored to your individual needs in legal documents that will stand up in court, and advises you on ways to cut taxes now as well as in the future, save for retirement and long-term care and truly protect your unique wishes. We make certain all documents are witnessed and notarized according to Arizona law. No online service does that.

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