Many companies will allow you to go online, download a Will, fill it out yourself and be done planning your estate at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay an attorney. These services have a place in our society, but before you make the plunge and declare yourself an estate planning guru, here are a couple of things you should consider if you are thinking about putting together your own estate plan.

  1. Your situation is one of a kind.

There are no set of facts, nor anyone who I have ever put an estate plan together for that had the exact same circumstances as another client. That being the case, it may not be in you or your family’s best interest to take a cookie-cutter, generic approach to your estate plan. These one size fits all documents will likely not take into account some of the scenarios that are present in your situation.

  1. Are your documents the right documents for you?

Many clients come in saying all they need is a simple will. The reality is after we sit down and explain the options, they realize they need much more. But let’s say that is all they want for the time being. One issue that arises time and time again is that many online forms do not meet the legal requirements for your specific state. For example, wills in Virginia require at least two witnesses. I’ve had clients come to me with a form they found online that doesn’t have this simple requirement. If that is the case, then the document you are putting together carries no legal weight and you likely end up in the situation that the document is not worth the paper that it is written on.

  1. Too much is on the line to not get it right.

Ask yourself, why am I planning my estate? The answer usually boils down to the fact that you want to make sure you family is taken care of once you are gone either mentally or physically. Since that is the case, make the investment in you and your family’s future and make sure you do it right with the help of a professional.

Do it yourself legal services have their place in today’s online world, but before you make that leap, do not hesitate to speak with an expert whose goal is to help you achieve your estate planning desires.

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Brian J. Smalls, Esq.
Brian J. Smalls, Esq., is an Estate Planning and Business Law Attorney in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia (Williamsburg, VA and Newport News, VA). He is the founding partner at The Law Office of Brian J. Smalls, P.C. A former football player at the University of Michigan, Brian is married to the beautiful Sonya Renee Smalls, and they have two wonderful children, Brayden and Brielle.
Brian J. Smalls, Esq.

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