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  • Catherine Spain

In Defense of Lawyers


“Do-it-yourself” estate planning is popping up everywhere, with various companies and websites claiming to provide forms that allow you to create your own will, trust, or contract without hiring a lawyer. If a lawyer were the same as a scrivener, using forms from a website might make sense. But a lawyer is so much more than a scrivener.


A lawyer is a counselor and advisor with whom you build a relationship of trust over time. A lawyer values you not as a customer, but as a client to whom she owes professional duties of confidentiality and care. For example, a good estate planning attorney will not simply ask for your wish list and transform it into a legal document. Rather, she will engage you in a meaningful dialogue about your individual and family goals. She will focus on key issues that may be facing you, your family, and your future. She will talk to you about possible solutions, and explain how customized legal documents can solve particular problems or address certain issues you may or may not be aware of.

As another lawyer once put it: "Improper drafting and execution is the biggest risk for the do-it-yourself estate planner.  Wills are among the most solemn and important legal documents.  Because they represent the wishes of a person after death, they must be drafted with precision and executed properly."



Instead of taking your chances with online templates, consider enlisting the services of a qualified estate planning attorney who will spot issues for you and your family over time, even over generations. Remember, a good lawyer values you as a client to whom she owes professional duties of confidentiality and care.

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