Question: Should I just use Legal Zoom to
prepare my Will or Trust?
Answer: No. While generalized electronic forms (like those offered through companies like Legal Zoom) offer the obvious advantage of cost savings, in many instances these documents are not the best option for your estate planning. You may think of your specific estate situation as “simple,” but for almost everyone, the general nature of these electronic documents can cause many unanticipated complications down the road.
Estate plans work best when they are tailored specifically to you, your family situation, and your assets. If you own real property (especially real property in multiple states), or if you have a blended family a more customized document will suit your needs better and help reduce stress and complication after you have passed.
If you have minor children (or a family member experiencing disability), a generalized document will often not offer the best options for customizing testamentary trusts, delaying distribution to children, or tailoring guardianship instructions.
In addition, all-in-one forms often fail to account for individual state tax laws. The tax minimizing options available in one state may be completely different from those available in another state, and (especially in Oregon) preemptive tax planning is vitally important.
Finally, do-it-yourself estate planning forms often don’t have the ability to see the big picture. Most often a full estate plan involves not only planning documents, but also changes to beneficiary designations so all of the pieces to the comprehensive plan will work together. This is planning that must be done on a case-by-case basis, specifically tailored to your individual plan and assets.
All-in-all, while generalized forms can be attractive due to their immediate cost savings, the inability to customize the plan, the loss of tax-minimizing options, and lack of incorporating beneficiary designations for retirement plans and life insurance will likely cost your family more down the road.
The attorneys at Fitzwater Law are always happy to answer your questions. Please give us a call today to discuss your estate planning options - 503.786.8191.