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7 Reasons Why You Should Not Use an Online Document Preparation Site or a Do-It-Yourself Software Program to for Your Estate Planning
1. No individualized advice: Document preparation services and legal software programs are not able to give you legal advice regarding your particular situation, nor are they licensed to do so. A Colorado attorney, however, has received years of legal training and can give you advice which is tailored to your specific needs. Also, an attorney is able to explain the legal significance of the clauses contained in your documents. The LegalZoom™ disclaimer states "The law is a personal matter, and no general information or legal tool like the kind LegalZoom™ provides can fit every circumstance... At no time do we review your answers for legal sufficiency, draw legal conclusions, provide legal advice or apply the law to the facts of your particular situation... LegalZoom's legal document service is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney". We would have to agree.
2. No guarantee that the documents will accomplish your goals: Although document preparation sites and software programs often "guarantee" your satisfaction, they cannot guarantee that your legal documents will be the correct solution. For example: LegalZoom™ advertises a satisfaction guarantee, however, their disclaimer says, "the legal information on this site is not legal advice and is not guaranteed to be correct complete or up-to-date". The plain meaning of the text leads us to believe that you will be 100% satisfied with their services if you are ok with legal information that may be incorrect, incomplete, or out of date.
3. Their services are not professionally regulated: A Colorado attorney must comply with the Professional Rules of the Colorado Bar. On the contrary, legal form websites are not regulated in any way.
4. Legal challenges may be on the horizon: The North Carolina Bar has challenged LegalZoom™ by claiming that they are violating the state's unauthorized practice of law statute. We believe more states will soon follow the North Carolina Bar's lead. A document prep website may or may not be around to help you with your documents in the future.
5. Minimal fee savings: Many document prep sites promise significant savings when compared to working with a licensed attorney. A side by side comparison of RockyMountainWills™ and LegalZoom™ tells a different story. Let's assume that a husband and wife purchase the following from LegalZoom™ at their basic price: 1) Simple Wills, 2) Durable Powers of Attorney, and 3) Living Wills/Health Care Powers of attorney. If they choose the basic package they will pay $138 for 2 Wills, $70 for 2 Powers of Attorney, and $78 for the 2 Living Wills/Health Care Powers of Attorney. The basic package will cost them $286. But hey, this is your Will. This may be the most important legal document that you ever sign. So, you decide to go with the Comprehensive Package just to make sure that everything is taken care of "correctly" (please see point 2 above). With the premium package the husband and wife pay $158 for 2 Wills, $90 for 2 Powers of Attorney, and $98 for the 2 Living Wills/Health Care Powers of Attorney. The comprehensive package will cost them a total of $346 for self help legal services. Now let's assume that this husband and wife choose the Basic Plan with RockyMountainWill™. They will pay a total of $349 for 2 Wills with a Memorandum of Disposition for personal property, 2 Financial Powers of Attorney, and a consultation with a Licensed Colorado Wills Attorney. A single individual will pay $143 for the basic LegalZoom™ will, power of attorney, and living will. The same documents in the comprehensive package will cost them $173. By comparison, a single individual pays a total of $249 for a Basic Will with a Memorandum of Disposition for personal property, a Financial Power of Attorney, and a consultation with a Colorado Wills Attorney when they choose RockyMountainWill™. For RockyMountainWill™ clients, any additional fees are minimal and they enjoy the peace of mind that comes with working with a professional throughout this important process. Can you find cheaper options? Yes. Can you find more expensive options? Yes. However, when compared with other services available on the web, we believe that our services are the best available in the marketplace today. No one else provides you with the efficiency, convenience, and legal advice from an attorney in your home state, like RockyMountainWills™.com. We are so confident, that we encourage you to explore all of your options before making a decision. After you have done so, we believe that you will become one of our clients.
6. Unnecessary Fees for Health Care Document: Document prep websites will charge you for Living Wills and Health Care Power of Attorney/Advanced Directives documents. LegalZoom™ charges either $39 or $49 for a Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney (meaning the premium package for husband and wife will cost you $98). Interestingly, the Colorado Hospital Association offers free Advanced Directive documents on this website:
RockyMountainWill.com™ does not draft, nor charge a fee for, Health Care Documents. With quality documents available online for free, which are endorsed by the Colorado Hospital Assocation and meet the statutory requirements of the Colorado Revised Statutes, we direct our clients to print and execute those Health Care Directives. For clients who would prefer a Health Care Directive from a Pro Life perspective we would suggest the National Right to Life's "Will to Live" available at:
7. Law at your own risk: The last paragraph of the LegalZoom™ disclaimer sums up the self help legal concept as follows: "In short, your use of the site is at your own risk". We would advise you to read the entire LegalZoom™ disclaimer on their website for more information concerning the associated risks. Other document prep sites and software programs have similar disclaimers. After doing so, ask yourself- "If this disclaimer was provided by a self help surgery center or a self help dentistry clinic would I choose the self help route or seek professional advice?". It's up to you. We just want you to make a fully informed decision. Considering that your Will dispose of property that often takes a lifetime to accumulate, we strongly suggest that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney regarding any business planning matters.