A study conducted by Consumer Reports magazine concluded that consulting a lawyer is important, especially in more complex situations, when it comes to choosing between wills prepared by on-line services or documents drafted by lay persons. “Unless your needs are simple–say you want to leave your entire estate to your spouse–none of the will-writing products is likely to entirely meet your needs.”
Consumer Reports evaluated three services commonly used to prepare legal documents including estate plans consisting of living trusts, wills, durable powers of attorney and advance health care directives. Those three services were LegalZoom, Nolo, and Rocket Lawyer.
The outcome of the study found that in some cases, documents programmed by the software of these three companies aren’t specific enough or contain language that could lead to an unintended result.
If all you need is software which makes a good simple will, these products may help. But consult a lawyer for more complex situations.
The bottom line from Consumer Report’s review of the three online providers is that the sites offer basic legal advice that might help save you money spent on a lawyer. If you use them for document prep, at minimum get all needed signatures to preserve your rights and prevent disputes. But many consumers are better off consulting a lawyer. The websites let you search for one and provide such information as education, background and licenses.
For estate planning help, call attorney Mitchell A. Port at (310) 559-5259.