Every now and then I encounter a client who gets a “deer in the headlights” look in his eye when I explain the cost of my services. They want to know how an attorney can charge thousands of dollars for an estate plan when someone could purchase one on LegalZoom for under $400. Or pay a “legal document preparation” company less than $800.

My answer:

When you’re signing a legal document, one which will likely effect multiple generations in your family, determine how your legacy is remembered and have far-reaching tax and other consequences, it’s probably best to go with the experts.

With a legal document preparation company like LegalZoom or WeThePeople you are paying for “attorney-drafted” legal documents that are treated like fill-in-the-blank worksheets. They guarantee that the document will be legally binding, but they can’t guarantee that nothing was missed. These companies assure their customers that “not everyone needs an attorney” and they can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars…

 But let’s talk about the risks.

An incomplete, improperly-drafted estate plan, an un-funded trust or a will ripe for contest runs the risk of:

  • unnecessary attorneys fees
  • unnecessary probate fees/costs
  • higher taxes
  • re-assessment of property
  • will contests
  • family disagreements and hurt feelings

An estate planning attorney does more than give you a “legally binding document.” We counsel you, we listen to your fears and goals for your family. We bring knowledge of family law, community property, real estate and taxes to our estate planning meetings. We ask the questions that make you really think about the outcome of the decisions you make. When you receive your completed estate plan, you will feel organized, prepared and empowered to provide for your family. You can rest well knowing that an educated and experienced professional thoroughly analyzed and planned your estate. That is why estate planning attorneys are worth the investment.

When you hire an attorney to plan your estate, you are investing in your family’s future. It is an up front fee that will benefit your loved ones exponentially in the future.

Happy Planning!