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The Importance of Using an Attorney Instead of Online Forms

Northwest Elder Law Center July 14, 2022

Attorneys Discussing a Contract AgreementThousands of people fall into the “do-it-yourself (DIY) estate planning” trap every year. While the notion of using free online forms to create an estate plan might sound appealing to many, the DIY approach to estate planning can prove to be a costly mistake down the road.

Although online forms and templates for estate planning might seem practical, using them can lead to undesirable ramifications and unintended results. If you are considering setting up an estate plan, you might want to contact an experienced attorney to help you prepare for your future and create a plan that is tailored to your specific goals, wishes, and needs.

With offices in Kennewick, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning has decades of experience helping people in Washington and Oregon navigate the estate planning process. He understands the importance of developing estate plans that are customized for each and every client.

Why Estate Planning Is Important

Only about a third of all Americans have a last will and testament. According to an annual survey published by SeniorLiving.org, 34% of Americans revealed that they have a will, while 7% said they do not need one. The other 8% said they were not sure, and the remaining 51% answered, “need but don’t have yet.”

Many Americans do not have an estate plan because they do not understand why estate planning is important. An estate plan is more than just distributing your assets to your loved ones. Estate planning can also be used to appoint guardians for your minor children, make end-of-life arrangements, write your final wishes regarding medical care, protect yourself and your loved ones from incapacity, appoint the person you trust to make decisions on your behalf, and many more.

A well-crafted estate plan can protect your legacy, bring peace of mind to your family members, and ensure that all your wishes will be followed in the event of your incapacity or death.

Online Forms vs. Estate Planning Attorney

When creating an estate plan, the importance of using an attorney instead of online forms cannot be overstated. Reasons why you should hire an estate planning attorney as an alternative to using online forms include:

  • Understanding of state law. Online forms for estate planning provide a one-size-fits-all solution to people across the United States. They do not address the state-specific requirements. An attorney, on the other hand, has a full understanding of state law and knows how to develop a legally-binding and valid estate plan.

  • Guidance and advice. When filling out online forms, there is no one by your side to ask questions to ensure that you do everything correctly. When you hire an attorney, you can get the guidance you need to ensure that you do not make any mistakes throughout the process.

  • Modifications. Over time, your circumstances or preferences may change, which will require you to make changes to your existing estate plan. Making modifications on an online form can be complicated. That is why it is vital to have an attorney who can help you make the necessary changes to your estate plan and ensure that your documents remain valid and enforceable.

  • Time and energy. If you are like the vast majority of Americans who do not understand estate planning, hiring an attorney can save you a lot of your time and energy. When using online forms, you have to figure out everything on your own, which can be a daunting task.

  • Staying current with the law and the times. When was the last time you developed a roll of film? Generic online forms often don't include changes to the law made to accommodate changing times. Washington and Oregon each have acts permitting your agents to manage your "digital assets" - such as your online accounts and phone data. Unless your documents include the power to manage these assets, your agents might be forced to get one court order for Apple, one for Google, and a third for Facebook. That alone might wipe out the "savings" created by using online forms.

Using online platforms or DIY estate planning sites to create an estate plan can have dire consequences. Online forms provide one-size-fits-all solutions that cannot help you create a plan tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Knowledgeable Legal Counsel

For many people, it can be tempting to use online forms as a quick and cheap solution to estate planning. However, using online forms to create an estate plan can lead to some devastating and unintended problems that can affect you, your family, and your legacy. Whether you are in Kennewick, Washington, Portland, Oregon, or surrounding areas, contact Attorney Robert Taylor-Manning to help you navigate the estate planning process.