Why not use a website, or other computer program, that lets me print my will myself?
Let’s ask the question the other way around. Why would you use a website or computer program to create your own will and print it yourself, as opposed to having your estate planning needs evaluated by a qualified local attorney, and having him prepare the documents and meet with you for their review and execution (or signing)? The only answer can be cost.
But, as is often the case, “you get what you pay for.” And, when the difference is a savings of a few hundred dollars or so, it simply may not be worth it.
If your situation involves any complications, if your projected estate at the time of death will near Massachusetts’ current $1 million estate tax exemption (including equity in real estate, and the amount of any life insurance policies), or if the establishment of a trust would further your estate planning goals, the rule of thumb is to consult with a lawyer. And, of course, a local estate planning lawyer is the best source for advice as to whether any of these circumstances apply to your specific situation.
If the “simple” will package is sufficient for your circumstances, its cost is relatively modest, but it is still a full-service plan which includes everything from “soup to nuts.” You will begin with an overall estate planning evaluation, including a discussion and understanding of your goals. Then your personalized will, power of attorney, and healthcare proxy will be drafted, and you will meet with an attorney to discuss their provisions and legally sign the documents. The end result will be a complete estate plan with legally-executed documents. Moreover, we make ourselves available for follow-up questions should any arise.
By contrast, when you sign on with one of the most popular online services, at most, you can print your documents yourself–and they still will not have been legally-signed, witnessed, or notarized. So, you will have documents which still need to be formally executed. As far as your privacy is concerned, information you share with them will not be subject to the attorney-client privilege. Moreover, a staple of their business model is having your account automatically converted to a subscription service, whereby they will continue to deduct monthly fees from your credit card, while offering ongoing “services,” until you become sufficiently motivated to cancel.
In sum, in more complex cases, the cost of our personal estate planning services will be commensurate with the size of the estate, but the trusts and advanced planning strategies employed require the guidance of a local attorney. In the case of smaller estates, the “simple” will package we offer still provides you with the convenience of a finished product, and the ongoing resource and accountability of a local attorney, at only a few hundred dollars more than you would spend for un-executed documents created on a national website.