Think about it, would you purchase a car from someone who would have nothing to do with it after you left the lot? They would sell you the car and say, “we can’t help you after you leave the lot regarding the maintenance or service of the car. And we won’t carry any parts either. Of course, they would have to sell it greatly discounted and even then you would be wondering how long you can drive it before you need the essential services to keep it running later.
But look at certain websites and consider this – you see forms for the preparation and production of Wills, trusts, business formation, and so forth. What is missing at those websites is the paperwork for the execution of those documents. Of course, they offer to connect you with lawyers of their choosing (and extract addition money from that lawyer for the privilege, who then passes those costs on to you).
A True Story
Yesterday, I was reading a thread on one of the listservs that I monitor concerning a bank teller informing an attorney that a person cannot be a successor trustee on a trust until the settlor has passed away. As a result, the teller would not accept documentation that enabled the successor to manage that account without an intervention by the successor’s attorney who spoke with the bank’s legal counsel to correct the teller’s misunderstanding.
Here is where the wheels come off. . . the individual who would go online and draft a document transferring authority to their agent as successor is left without knowing if the teller was right or wrong. It is in the EXECUTION of the document or fostering the goals of the individual that “self-helpers” run into trouble and need an attorney to unravel the mess that many of them created in the first instance.
You will find plenty of websites that walk you through the preparation of a Will, but try to find documents on that same website that give you the forms to probate that Will and you will find yourself stranded. The reason is that those providers know that each jurisdiction is going to be different and that there is no single solution or format for the unexpected and undefined. You need someone with knowledge and experience who can fashion documents that meet the demands of uncertainty that dominate the legal system.
So the next time a client says, I can do my own Will on ______ for a lot less. Say, “that is fine, but when you decide you want the ‘wheels’, come back and see me. I sell the whole unit.