Using Fillable Forms vs. Hiring an Attorney
Oct 28, 2014
“Lawyers? Who needs them? They cost too much money; I can fill in a form for cheap. What is the worst that could happen?” Most people understand that they need a will or other estate documents. What they don’t understand is if they should hire an attorney to draft the document or just find a fill in the blank form. After all, there are plenty of places and websites offering forms for sale. What can a lawyer offer that I cannot figure out myself?
Getting the right forms
An attorney is going to sit down with you and get to know you personally. He will ask about your financial situation, your family dynamics, and where your life is going. For an example, do you own a home? Do you have your own business? Do you have minor children? With this information, he is able to discuss with you what your wishes are for your assets after you pass and know what documents are needed to reach your goals. Do you just need a will or would a trust better fit your circumstances? Would a Life Estate Deed be a good idea to protect my home from nursing home costs? Knowing what documents you need is more important than simply filing out a form. You need the expertise and knowledge of an attorney.
What does a local attorney cost for drafting a will? Have you called one? Many attorneys, including Pedersen Law, have a flat fee for drafting estate planning papers and have become very affordable. Also, many attorneys have free initial consults. I would urge you to compare their prices with the prices of the fill in the blank form providers. They might not be identical but they are likely to be close. The extra value of having an attorney is the peace of mind that the documents are drafted correctly and specifically for you.
Provisions and Clauses
“You don’t pay a plumber to turn a wrench; you pay a plumber to know where to put the wrench before they turn it.” This concept also applies to attorneys and legal documents. All wills and trusts contain different provisions and clauses. This is not a mistake. A correctly drafted legal document has provisions and clauses that apply to the unique person they are drafted for. If the wrong provision or clause is included, it can change the entire outcome of the document. Not being an attorney, it is easy to misunderstand a provision and clause and accidentally do the opposite of your intentions.
Will they hold up in court?
A legal document is not worth the paper it is printed on if it will not hold up in court. If an estate planning document is drafted incorrectly and not reviewed by an attorney, it will not be legally binding and this will not be discovered until after your death or mental incapacity. At that point, it is too late to fix. The last thing you want is for your family to not be able to give permission to save your life with a surgery because the Power of Attorney for Healthcare form you found online was draft improperly or not valid in Wisconsin.
Did you know…?
Most people do not know that a social security disability recipient loses their benefits if they receive any inheritance over $2,000. However, if you create a special needs trust, it will prevent them from losing the benefits and still receive the inheritance. This is a great example of something you may not know, but, if you have a special needs child, you need to know. Fill in the blank forms do not answer the questions that you didn’t know you needed to ask. Even if an online form website states that their legal team reviews your answers to the questionnaire doesn’t mean they know your situation personally or that they have helped you prepare the correct documents.
Estate papers are critical and should not be taken lightly. A professional is needed to assure that you get the right forms with the right provisions and that the forms hold up in the State of Wisconsin. That professional is also going to make sure that he gives you answers to the questions you didn’t even know to ask. Call and talk to an attorney today! At Pedersen Law Office we have free consultations in all our areas of practice, including estate planning. We can meet with you in either our Appleton area or our Green Bay office.