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IS IT OKAY TO USE ONLINE SOFTWARE TO CREATE YOUR ESTATE PLAN?

IS IT OKAY TO USE ONLINE SOFTWARE TO CREATE YOUR ESTATE PLAN?

 

My name is Clint W. Smith. I am an attorney. I practice in estate planning law in Mesa, Arizona.

Is it Safe To Use Online Software to Create Legal Documents?

Occasionally I come across people who want to use a website, some kind of online software, to create their trust. I’ve got to concede that there are situations where that might be adequate. If it’s a very simple situation that involves only a few brokerage accounts or maybe just IRAs, or 401(k)s, maybe it’s possible to do that estate planning online. Or with one of those packets that are available. There is certainly a place in the world for that.

But you don’t know that until you get into the nitty-gritty. There are situations that people just don’t know are an issue until that is brought to their attention.

Because of the relatively high limit right now of gift and estate tax, a lot of people’s estate plans are really simple right now. Because, less than $5 million, there really isn’t anything to worry about tax-wise. That will all change, in all likelihood, as of January 1, 2013. But that’s a whole separate issue.

What I’m talking about here is, is the trust or will going to be adequate if I go online and get it? I can’t tell you that. Mostly it’s not. And it is worth, in my opinion, a little bit of money to consult with an estate planning lawyer and find out what the ins and outs of it are.

I have had that situation several times where I will just say, well, I could do that it will cost this much. But because your situation is so simple, why don’t you just do it online? And there are places that are reasonable and accurate.

I don’t recommend any specific websites because I don’t want any liability arising out of that, but there are places where people can do that. And I don’t have a problem with that if people choose to do it. I just think they need to be educated and I’m happy to do that at my office. We do that every day.

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