Watching commercials on television late at night can be a great education for the estate planning attorney. It seems that all channels have pre-prepared or “canned” legal documents for commercial sales to “save you the costs of hiring a high-priced attorney”: “Save thousands of dollars with our (insert document type: wills, trusts , powers, deeds, etc.)! “” They are easy to use! ” “Avoid paying high prices for something you can do at home!” There are always smiling people and “testimonials” from “clients” who claim that the forms came with step-by-step instructions and were very easy to use.
To think that planning, creating and executing the most important documents in any individual’s life could be so simple!
If only it were so.
This is a classic case of “if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is because it is.” American capitalism is a wonderful thing, and as a small business owner I certainly appreciate the freedom Americans have to earn a living, but it’s not so great if it hurts the consumer who spends their hard-earned money on computer programs or forms documents. . which will ultimately not get the job done.
Several clients approached me with pre-prepared documents that were either completely invalid, did not do what they were supposed to do, or required a lot of legal work afterwards to fix the mess they got the client into. Some were wills, some were trusts, some were corporate papers, and some were contracts. In each case, the customer ended up paying more, sometimes much more – for me to clean up the mess.
Lawyers don’t spend four years in college and another three years in law school to fill out canned forms from an online website or an office supply store. Most legal documents, especially those that people need for their daily lives, require precision and formality to be legally valid. And they must carefully follow the laws of the state in which they will be used. Wills must contain very specific language and be executed with extreme precision to be recognized by the courts. A misstep and a will are not valid. This is particularly important because you cannot make a will again after your death. And that’s not what you want for your heirs.
The same is true for writes, which must also be executed correctly or are invalid. Imagine thinking that you have transferred, or worse yet, He received – a property, only to find that the document is not worth the paper it is written on? Contracts are another type of document that people feel they can draft themselves or use “canned” documents without knowing the requirements of a specific area of law or the law of that state. I can’t tell you how many times the foolishness of a previous penny from my red-faced client led to lengthy and costly litigation.
Is it really worth saving between $ 750.00 and $ 1,500.00, depending on the type of document, to have legal documents that may not be valid? While it may be tempting to use pre-prepared legal documents to save a little, their use is a classic case of being “wise with a penny and dumb with the dollar.” I always tell my clients: “Pay me now or pay me later. If you pay me now it will cost you less than if you have to pay me later to clean up the mess.”
Only one member of your state’s Bar Association is authorized and competent to prepare these important life documents for you. Seek the right advice and be prepared to pay a reasonable price now for expert advice and design to avoid a costly problem in the future.