Attorney vs. Online Service - Which Is Better

Attorney vs. Online Service - Which Is Better

Every adult over 18 benefits from creating an estate plan. Many estate planners are turning to online services to create estate planning documents like wills and trust agreements. If you’re considering paying for an online service to create your will or trust agreement, it’s important to understand some of the downsides of doing so. 

Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help avoid common pitfalls. Unlike online legal service companies, an attorney can ask you questions and learn more about your unique position and goals to create a comprehensive estate plan tailored to you. Suppose you have questions about estate planning matters, attorney Christopher Heritage of Heritage Legal. In that case, Heritage Legal, PC is ready to answer them and provide you with personalized, one-on-one estate planning services.

The Increasing Popularity of Online Estate Planning Tools

In today’s fast-paced digital world, many consumers turn to online services to reduce expenses. Consequently, online legal service providers have increased in popularity. Online will and trust preparation companies provide an alternative to traditional estate planning law firms. Historically, estate planning involves in-depth conversations with one or more attorneys, significant paperwork, and legal fees. 

While using an online form to create your will, trust, or other estate planning document may seem appealing, it may not be the best option for those who need a well-drafted, comprehensive estate plan. Understanding the pros and cons of using an online estate planning service can help you make an informed decision about your future.

Is Using an Online Estate Planning Platform More Affordable?

Online estate planning services are appealing because they almost always cost less than hiring an attorney. Some online estate planning services offer customers will preparation services for under $200, providing affordability and accessibility, whereas many estate planning attorneys charge clients by the hour. 

Creating an estate plan can cost between $5,000 and $25,000 or more, depending on the complexity of a client’s estate. The expenses for traditional estate planning through a law firm have led to customers turning to online estate planning platforms. 

While using an estate planning service may save you money in the short term, it could cost you more in the long term. For example, suppose you’d like to leave money or assets to charity. In that case, an attorney may be able to help you strategically reduce your tax liability, allowing your beneficiaries to receive more assets. Attorney Christopher Heritage offers customized legal advice, including real-time tax guidance and advice every step of the way. 

Online Estate Plans May Not Comply with California Law

Additionally, if you pay for an online legal service, an attorney likely will not review the final estate planning documents to ensure they comply with state laws. The majority of estate planning templates used online aren’t state-specific. When a will or trust agreement doesn’t comply with state laws, your estate and legacy will be vulnerable to legal challenges. 

Will contests can end up costing your estate thousands of dollars. Working with an attorney can also help you identify potential red flags with your estate plan. Every estate plan is unique, and one-size-fits solutions may not address your specific circumstances. Attorney Christopher Heritage has an in-depth understanding of California’s estate planning laws and stays up-to-date on all changes. He uses his knowledge to create estate plans in compliance with state law.

Can Online Estate Planning Services Address Complex Legal Issues?

When you meet with an estate planning attorney, your attorney will usually provide an in-depth questionnaire. Your answers will help your attorney identify the types of estate planning documents you need to protect yourself, your assets, and your loved ones. Online forms do not take your individual needs into account. 

A computer-generated algorithm may be able to identify some red flags and address them, but it cannot identify all of the issues you may face in the future. When an online will-generating company makes mistakes or leaves important information out, modifying the will can take time and effort. Many online services do not provide will modification services. An estate planning attorney can help you modify your estate plan when a significant life event occurs, such as a marriage, divorce, birth, or death in the family. 

In addition to reviewing your estate plan when a change of circumstances occurs, many estate planning attorneys advise reviewing your estate plan once a year. When you work with an attorney who knows your history and prepares your original estate plan, updating your estate plan can be easier and quicker.

Protecting Your Interests When Legal Disputes Arise

Even the most well-written, comprehensive estate plan could be vulnerable to disputes by your beneficiaries or other interested parties after you pass away. When disputes arise, the court will need to step in, review evidence, and rule on the contested issue. 

If you’ve used an online template, your beneficiaries may not benefit from your estate planning attorney’s advice. Wills and estate planning documents created by algorithms may be more vulnerable to invalidation by probate courts. Working with a skilled attorney may help you avoid fighting among your heirs and beneficiaries, saving them time and money.

When to Consider Working with an Attorney to Create Your Estate Plan

Many estate planners will benefit from working with an attorney, especially those who need to engage in Medicaid planning and have an estate large enough to trigger state or federal estate taxes. Additionally, estate planners who wish to leave money or assets to charity, create a trust, are the parents of a special needs child, and own property in multiple steps will benefit from hiring an attorney. 


Discuss Your Estate Plan with an Estate Planning Attorney in Palm Springs

Before you pay an online legal service to create your estate planning documents, consider asking yourself whether you’d like to leave your estate plan to chance. It's wise to avoid taking unnecessary risks when providing for your loved ones after you are gone and protecting your legacy through an estate plan. 

Attorney Christopher Heritage will take time to get to know you as a person and provide you with customized legal representation. Whether you need to review your current estate plan or start estate planning for the first time, don’t hesitate to contact Heritage Legal, PC to schedule an initial consultation.

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