Why You Need an Estate Planning Attorney
Similar to how illnesses often necessitate the treatment of a doctor, legal issues often require the expertise and guidance of an attorney. Like medicine, law is complex, specialized and constantly evolving. Understanding laws, as well as legal systems and processes, not only takes years of studying and an advanced degree. It requires continuing education to ensure that attorneys are aware of new laws and stay abreast of changes to existing laws.
Although the increasing availability of legal services on the internet has made it easier to access basic legal information, these services are no substitute for the expert advice of a licensed, local attorney. Typically, online legal services offer only national perspectives, whereas local attorneys are able to provide clients with market-specific, regional insight and the personalized guidance needed to resolve a particular legal issue.
While self-representation in estate planning and probate matters may work for some, studies show that representing yourself, or “Pro Se” (the official term for legal self-representation), can result in costly mistakes and unfavorable outcomes. Consider these findings:
- An American Bar Association Task Force found that errors made in drafting estate-planning and related legal documents without the assistance of an attorney can profoundly alter familial relationships, leaving family members confused, disappointed or locked in hostile litigation.
- The most common errors associated with do-it-yourself estate planning documents are caused by the omission of specific requirements or formalities required by local law, usually involving the manner in which documents are executed.
- If a change in estate law occurs, a do-it-yourself legal website, which cannot provide legal advice, will not contact all users of its forms to let them know that a certain provision in their current estate planning document may have adverse consequences under new law.