“You Get What You Pay For”

  • Posted by Bruce McDonald
  • February 05, 2014
  • (0) Comments

We are often asked, "Would I be OK with a Will from Legal Zoom or drafting one on my own from a software program?"

We are often asked, "Would I be OK with a Will from Legal Zoom or drafting one on my own from a software program?"  The answer is complicated because (1) Not everyone needs a Will, although most do; and (2) so much depends on what the person already knows about the laws of property and inheritance – the more you know, the more you can spot the shortcomings of a "form" Will or service.

This "knowledge" factor is because no software or internet service of which I am aware asks the user ALL the questions that really should be asked for a complete estate plan. They ask the questions as to what should be stated in the Will, but that is not sufficient to create a complete plan.

For example, the online service that I have observed asked "Who should receive what assets?" but did not ask "How are all your assets titled now?" It makes a huge difference as to whether homestead in Florida is in joint names between spouses or just in the name of one spouse. Huge. Yet, how many people drafting Wills know that?

If someone is very familiar with the law, he or she may do just fine with a self-made Will or a Will drafted by an internet service. However, given that I have seen many attorney-drafted Wills that were counterproductive or defective in some way, due to the fact that these attorneys were not familiar with inheritance law, I think very few non-lawyers have that level of knowledge. Most people should invest the money in a good lawyer's help in drafting their estate plan.