There is no shortage of estate planning advice out there. Online subscription-based services may offer an “estate plan” for two people for as low as $249. This can be very tempting, especially for young couples and those just starting a family. But think about it for a second: these services claim to provide a custom estate plan, tailored to your needs, with up to 30 minutes of attorney consultation, all for less money than the typical lawyer would charge for an hour of his or her time. Give it time to sink in. How can that work?
How can a Greenville Family Law attorney, licensed in South Carolina, with practice to maintain and staff to pay, possibly give away advice? How can these services make money and pay the consulting attorney for their time? The answer – a computer spits out the document, and the lawyer gets a nominal fee for taking a single rushed phone call. In short, you’ll get exactly what you paid for – a template document that may or may not really be appropriate for your situation. Consider two examples.
Young Couple – Past Marital Problems
A young couple has one child, but a few years back they almost got divorced over the wife’s drug habit. The husband is concerned that if he were to die, his wife may not let their child see his parents. He also worries that she may return to bad habits if ever faced with stress and instability. An Internet forms database cannot hear these concerns and recommend a life insurance trust designed as a repository for a large life insurance policy that could be set up to protect minor children while allowing someone other than the wife to act as trustee for her benefit. The attorney that the database sends you to will likely have an agreement with the service not to steer clients away or try to “sell” them additional items, as that could be competition. Therefore, a client who could greatly benefit from skilled advice will not receive it.
The Late Life Marriage
A woman in her sixties has remarried, but she is concerned about protecting her children from a prior marriage. She goes to a legal subscription site and fills out the template, the system spits out a document, and she gets it signed. The problem is, all of her funds are held in joint bank accounts with her new spouse. Thus, they will all be non-probate transfers. If she dies, none of the funds are even part of her estate. The funds automatically pass to the spouse, regardless of what her will says. In effect, she just spent about $100 for a napkin with the word “will” written on it.
Nothing Compares to Competent Advice from a Skilled Attorney
At the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, we take the time to carefully listen to your story. We get to know our clients and their goals. We involve family when possible and try to custom build a plan, a strategy, a vision of your future, your estate, and how you want to be remembered by loved ones. Call us today to set up your own meeting with an attorney.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.