Legal Blackjack: Internet Estate Plans

Legal Blackjack: Internet Estate Plans

There’s no question; the internet has changed everything. Whether it’s a good change or a bad change depends on who you ask. Some people are excited by the deluge of news and information, speedy contact through e-mail, and internet commerce while others complain that we’ve lost human interaction, have propelled internet pornography to children, and desensitized the world to negative images of violence and war. No matter which camp you fall into, there’s no doubt the world has changed with the internet age. To some degree, the law has changed with it.

Today, consumers can find any number of legal services on the internet. No matter if the person wants to create a new LLC or draft a simple will, web services like Legal Zoom and others offer legal plans they say are bulletproof for lower costs than a lawyer, or local firm would charge. But, are they worthwhile? The answer: maybe not. 

The reality is that some clients don’t need complex planning and high-dollar legal services. But, another reality is that laws vary from state-to-state, and cookie-cutter form documents aren’t always going to provide the consumer the legal protection they need. After all, if a legal form you buy is drafted by someone in California, are you sure it will be legal in Texas? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. The real question though is simple: do you want to gamble that the documents you buy online will be effective in your state (or for your specific situation).

Just like you probably wouldn’t hop on YouTube to learn how to pull a tooth if you have a toothache, you shouldn’t use an automated web service to create important legal documents for you. While it may be less expensive up front, you are risking using a faulty legal plan that may be worse than having nothing at all (that’s right – the wrong plan may end up being worse than no plan at all). Consider a case I worked on several years back where the man who died used a fill-in-the-blank Last Will he bought at an office supply store. The documents weren’t legal in Texas (not to mention he didn’t correctly complete the documents) and, ultimately, they failed. His family paid our firm over $20,000 in legal fees to resolve the issue (it was a complex estate that involved dueling claims by relatives). That man could have spent less than $1,000 on an attorney-drafted estate plan, and there would have been no problems. His wishes would have been easily carried out, and there would have been no fight. 

The reality is simple – sometimes trying to cut corners for the sake of saving money is a false economy. Yes, you may save a couple of bucks up front, but you’ve taken an incredible (and unnecessary) risk. You wouldn’t take your life savings and bet it all on one game of Blackjack, and you shouldn’t bet your estate, business, or family happiness on internet-drafted, computerized, or form estate plans. Legal services from a qualified attorney or law firm (like drafting a Last Will or creating an LLC) are relatively inexpensive, and you will have the peace of mind knowing a qualified, licensed professional in your area crafted a plan specifically for you and your needs. Not only will you have peace of mind but also you can be confident the plan will work when needed. It’s the difference between a gamble and investment.

Our firm handles all forms of estate planning (whether Last Wills, trusts, etc.) as well as the creation of legal entities. If you need a plan – or if you already created an internet plan and want us to review to verify it’s effectiveness – call us today. We want to help you. We can be reached at (469) 607-4503 or via chris@parvinlaw.com.

ATTORNEY CHRIS PARVIN is Board Certified in Estate Planning & Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Parvin is the Managing Partner of the Dallas, Texas law firm of Parvin Law Group, P.C. and serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law. Mr. Parvin can be reached by email at chris@parvinlaw.com

Parvin Law Group, P.C. is a Concierge Law Firm in Dallas, Texas with attorneys practicing law in the fields of Estate Planning, Probate, Business Law and Family Law.