I often get asked about online estate planning tools and sites. Most commonly people question whether LegalZoom, specially, is a good option for estate planning.
My response is typically that you get what you pay for. This blog post is my personal (not legal) opinion on LegalZoom and its online estate planning tools. In my personal experience, I have not yet seen a Will from LegalZoom that accurately reflects exactly what a client intended. Unfortunately, sometimes these missteps and errors arise after someone has passed away and the mistakes are costly.
I am likely not the only one who has had clients whose Wills prepared by LegalZoom have contained errors. On the LegalZoom website, LegalZoom reveals that 80 percent of people who fill in blank forms to create legal documents do so incorrectly. LegalZoom is stating that most people’s documents contain errors!
LegalZoom is also not a law firm. It is not permitted to review answers in forms for legal sufficiency, draw legal conclusions, provide legal advice or apply the law to the facts of your particular situation. The website (rightfully) contains a disclaimer regarding LegalZoom’s inability to provide legal advice.
As an attorney, my job is to ask you questions and provide planning and options based on the answers to those questions. As LegalZoom is not a law firm and is not able to provide legal advice, individuals using LegalZoom are missing out on this valuable opportunity to have an attorney ask questions and provide advice relating to something the client might not know they need.
In addition, LegalZoom's disclaimer also states "the legal information on this site is not legal advice and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete or up-to-date. Because the law changes rapidly, is different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction..." As an attorney practicing in estate planning, I am contially monitoring changes in the laws and interpreation of those laws to provide advice and documentation that accurately reflects the current Washington law.
Obviously, LegalZoom is not the only program out there. Recently, I attended a conference where a Washington attorney compared the options for online estate planning. In a follow up post, I will provide a summary of some of the options out there, what the options are lacking and what positive attributes the options might have.
If you have questions regarding your estate planning, I would be happy to connect with you. Feel free to email or call 425-885-6066.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice from Leos & Gilkerson, PLLC or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed lawyer.