At a glance, online legal form providers may seem like a cheaper alternative way to go for 'do-it-yourself' estate litigation. After all, the commercials on radio and television make it seem like it is just so simple and easy and will save you thousands and thousands of dollars in probate and attorney costs. But do not be fooled. These businesses are not a substitute for a professional estate planning attorney. And may very well cost you a great deal more money by using their services.
In California, a certain high profile online provider of legal forms, is being sued by almost 3,000 residents who purchased estate litigation related forms through their website. The claimants state they misrepresented their business practices and were essentially practicing law without a license.
In one case a man with help from a family member downloaded and signed estate forms believing that his newly created trust and will would be legally secured and that his wishes would be upheld upon his death. However, when he passed, no financial institutions would recognize his revocable living trust as being valid. Meaning none of his assets were titled correctly and the trustee had no authority over any of the assets. And the will was not properly executed either. Probate was not avoided and ended up costing the estate thousands of dollars and a lot of time.
Do not be fooled by quick and easy DIY estate litigation. There is more to it than just documents. Only a professional estate litigation Attorney will know the laws that can secure and benefit your estate not only after your death but even while you are living.
*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be constituted as professional legal advice.