Are You a Do-It-Yourselfer? Don’t Tackle This Project Alone

Dyi disasterThe Internet is a wonderful tool for so many areas of life. However, drafting legal documents is not necessarily one of them. While it may sound enticing to use that website form to draft your will, here are three reasons to reconsider that decision.

A recent article in ABA Law Technology Today, titled "3 Reasons to Avoid Online Forms for Wills and Estate Planning,"reminds us that, just like fixing up your house, there are jobs you can handle yourself and those that require the assistance of an expert.

Are they state specific? Online forms may or may not work. These forms typically are not state-specific, which means your will may or may not be valid. Just like your house being "up to code," the code may differ from one location to the next. And just like doing the job right with a home improvement project, if you are investing the time to draft a will or any other estate planning document (which you should!), you want to make sure it is valid. An experienced estate planning attorney in your state can help make certain your will is valid and properly executed and your interests are protected.

You are missing out on valuable legal advice. Do you ever start an unfamiliar project on your home without doing any homework? Just run to the hardware store, grab some supplies and get going? That probably has a low chance of success. Websites may say that wills and other estate planning documents are quick and easy to create. However, you are missing out on valuable legal advice and experience. When you talk to an experienced estate planning attorney, you will become informed and educated on the details of your plan. You and your attorney will discuss if a will or a trust is better for you (or perhaps both), and how to apply these to your specific circumstances (e.g., step-children, special needs, college savings, or aging parents). The original article reminds us that an attorney does much more than draft the documents—he or she gives you legal advice on why you should have your document drafted in a certain way.

Websites don’t inform you of changes in the law in the future. What? There's a new tool that saves me time or a product that makes my house safer? A website will not call you when an important law changes that impacts the provisions of your will, but an experienced relationship-oriented attorney will. You can be sure that the laws are always being amended, updated, and repealed. A competent estate planning attorney keeps up-to-date on those changes and communicates them to his or her clients. Many individuals ask their attorneys to contact them annually to see if there are changes to the laws and to be certain their wills are valid and still reflect their wishes and their circumstances.

The original closes with the reminder that you get what you pay for—whether that is a weekend warrior fixing the plumbing or an experienced professional who is educated in estate planning. Using a form you discover on the Internet will most undoubtedly be less expensive and perhaps less time consuming than partnering with an attorney to draft your will or other estate planning documents—but is it worth it? Remember, these are important issues concerning you and your loved ones. You want to make sure that everything is legal and you have the best strategies in place. Think about it? Do you really want to take on this important project alone?

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning. 

Reference: ABA Law Technology Today (October 7, 2014) "3 Reasons to Avoid Online Forms for Wills and Estate Planning"


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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
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Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.