There's actually no doubt that you can do estate planning online. If the procedures for the execution of a will and/or trust are followed closely, it should certainly stand up to any judicial scrutiny. It must not only be formal, but most states require two witnesses and a notarization of the will. Is it in fact a good idea, is an entirely different question. I have been doing estate planning for our clients for close to 40 years. I worked with some of the finest estate planning attorneys in the country. I've also worked with some true idiots and a defined an idiot is any professional who claims to have knowledge in an area for which they have little or no expertise. Having said this, if the estate is truly simple and is going to one or a couple of beneficiaries you might consider the online service. However, if you know what you want and you have a clear understanding of who the beneficiaries will be, it might be worthwhile to ask for a free 30 minute or 60 minute consultation with an estate planning professional, specifically an attorney skilled in the drafting of estate planning documents and the probating of wills. In our practice, we don't depend very heavily on wills but instead, use living trusts to handle all of the dispositive provisions of our clients. We don't have enough time to go into detail as to why but it simply the way we provide our estate planning services prior to the retention of a qualified attorney for the actual drafting the documents. In our area, most attorneys will meet with you preliminarily which may provide you with an opportunity to not only review your thoughts and suggestions, but to question her/his fee structure. This is definitely not an area we want to take shortcuts. Good Luck
It is wise to use the services of an attorney, but a self-help legal service (such as LegalZoom) can be valid. It depends on the complexity of your financial and family picture, how knowledgeable you are (or aren't) in estate-related matters, the type of estate planning and documents you need, and so on. Some folks with smaller, straight-forward estates are comfortable drafting their own basic documents (Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Advance Directive) using a self-help legal service. And that can be fine in simple estate situations if they know what they're doing. The potential danger is "not knowing what you don't know" and that can come around to bite you or your heirs. An estate planning attorney can help you make sure all the bases are properly covered. Treat this as general information and not formal legal advice. I hope it helps.
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