By Andrew Kardon for Techlicious
Are Online Legal Services Legit?
Like them or not, lawyers are much-needed professionals who can help you handle important, sensitive and often complex events. Without a lawyer, it’s difficult to put together a will, create business contracts or file for divorce.
In recent years, online legal sites like LegalZoom.com have emerged that give you the tools to act as your very own lawyer. The sites offer simple, tailored questionnaires that run you through a series of questions, dropdowns and checkboxes. You fill it out online, pay a fee (substantially lower than any lawyer would charge) and then just wait for your documents to arrive in the mail.
It’s certainly faster and cheaper than hiring a lawyer, but is it better? That’s what we wanted to find out. We spoke with three different attorneys, each an expert in his or her field, to get the full skinny on “going legal” online.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
“Absolutely not a good idea,” says Julie Min Chayet, Managing Director and Trust Counsel at Fiduciary Trust Company International. In terms of a will, Chayet says there is just no way a simple online form can satisfy a client’s expectations to deliver the specific type of legal document needed. From guardianship to religious upbringing to distribution of assets, every single person’s situation is different.
Even in the most simplistic of cases, Chayet finds fault with online legal sites. If someone is single, an only child, with both parents still alive, and no complex investments, it still isn’t a good idea, she says, since having your parents inherit your assets could have a negative impact. “By your parents inheriting your assets, how would that affect them? That may not be a question you ever anticipated when you initially went on LegalZoom and did your 30 minute will. That’s where your simple will turns into a much more complicated situation for your parents; it may push them into a taxable, more complicated situation.”
This excerpt appears with permission from Techlicious.