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Reasons to Use an Estate Planning Attorney Over Online Forms

TdD Attorneys at Law June 15, 2022

The internet, podcasts, and social media platforms like YouTube have created a growing do-it-yourself (DIY) society. You can repair your own faucet or upcycle a tired breadbox by going online to learn how. If the faucet continues to drip or the breadbox doesn’t look quite like the one in the video, even after your DIY effort, you can always get professional help. If your online will doesn’t hold up in probate court, however, there is nothing you can do about it by then.

We understand the estate planning attorney vs. online form debate. Online estate planning templates are fairly inexpensive. You just fill in some blanks, print and sign the documents, and assume everything meets Missouri’s legal requirements. That is what the online provider tells you, although it won’t offer a money-back guarantee.

According to court statistics, more than 15,000 probate cases were filed in Missouri courts in 2021. That reflects 15,000 unique individuals with unique estates. Your estate plan should be as unique as your estate and your wishes for it. That is something that cannot be addressed by an online form.

TdD Attorneys at Law has helped hundreds of clients in St. Louis, Missouri and surrounding areas express their wishes through estate plans as unique as they are. We know that working with an estate planning attorney may be a larger investment than an online form. We also know why the investment is worth it.

What Makes Estate Planning So Important?

Estate planning is important because it provides you the opportunity to decide what happens to you if you become unable to communicate for yourself and what happens to your estate when you die. Without an estate plan, the courts make those decisions for you. Given the gravity of the decisions expressed in an estate plan, you can understand why you should have one.

What Are the Advantages of an Estate Planning Attorney over Online Forms?

There are several reasons why working with an estate planning attorney is a wiser choice than drafting an estate plan online, even if it may cost you a little more money now. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Here are a few reasons why.

Your documents must be specific to the state of Missouri. 

The probate courts are subject to the laws of the state in which they are established. What is legal in other states may not be so in Missouri. If a will or other estate planning document fails to comply substantially with Missouri law, it will be challenged. Once challenged, it may be changed or “thrown out” altogether.

Although most online providers of estate planning forms will promise their forms to comply with the state you choose, that usually is not the case. Moreover, Missouri laws change over time. At TdD Attorneys at Law, we keep current with changes in estate planning and probate law. That is because we are Missouri attorneys representing Missouri clients.

Changes and updates are easy to make and consistent throughout your plan and throughout your lifetime. 

You should know that if you want to modify your online form, you will have to purchase a new one and fill it out all over again. That costs time and money on its own, but consider the fact that in many cases, revising one part of one document will necessitate revising other estate planning documents.

Estate plans should be living documents while you are alive. They only need to be changed to reflect certain changes in your life, such as marriage and divorce. However, if done correctly the birth or death of children and the acquisition or sale of assets will not require a change, so you end up saving over your lifetime .

With an estate planning attorney, you get legal advice. 

If you use an online form, you get a form. If you work with an estate planning attorney, you get knowledgeable advice and informed guidance. When your attorney asks about your beneficiaries and you aren’t sure how to respond, you simply ask your attorney for clarification. You are the one who will make all the decisions necessary to create your estate plan. You need to have clear and concise information to make them.

If you have a question or require clarification while completing an online questionnaire that is then turned into your will, you can probably ask the chatbot. Are you willing to risk your estate plan on its response or on the attorney seated across the table from you?

In addition, state and federal tax implications are considerations in many estate plans. Your estate planning attorney will be able to help you with tax-related questions as well.

Your attorney can address disputes and challenges to your estate planning documents should they arise.

If heirs or creditors dispute or challenge the document you created online, there is no one there to address your actions, your wishes, or your intent. Invariably, the court will determine the outcome. If disputes or challenges arise regarding your attorney-created estate planning document, your attorney will address them and the court will usually place a great deal of weight on what the attorney says. That is not only because your attorney has a law degree, but because your attorney does not benefit from the provisions in your estate plan.

Your attorney can safeguard your estate planning documents. 

When you create a will online, you will need to print it off and sign it and have it witnessed as required by law. What happens to it then is difficult to guess. If you work with an estate planning attorney, most firms will keep a fully executed electronic copy on file. Should the original be lost or misplaced, your attorney may be able to produce a copy for the court.

Skilled Legal Guidance

Even a skilled DIYer knows when to call an experienced professional. There are some jobs that benefit tremendously from the work of someone with the skill, experience, and education such tasks require.

At TdD Attorneys at Law, we believe estate planning attorneys win this debate every time. That is what we prove to our clients from St. Louis, Missouri, day after day.

Start your estate plan now. Call TdD Attorneys at Law.