There was a time that if someone needed a new dining room table, they would call a neighborhood furniture maker. He would measure the dining room, discuss the style and seating requirements with the owner, get a feel for the home and room the table would be used in, and then return to his shop and expertly craft the perfect custom dining room table for his client. Now, we pick up a hundred-pound box at Ikea and spend six hours trying to decipher assembly instructions for a pre-made dining room table that will probably only last a few years, will not be a perfect fit or style, and will always have that one loose leg we couldn’t get screwed in just right.
Consider this: When it comes to creating a will or a trust, there are “Ikea wills” and then there are custom wills, written by a skilled attorney who took the time to know and understand you and your situation. Plenty of web sites offer the “Ikea wills” — you pay a couple hundred bucks or less, fill out the answers to a few questions, and then print your will or trust documents. It’s cheap and you never even have to talk to anyone to get it done. But when you’ve finished the process, what exactly do you have there? Will it save your family time and money after you are gone? Will it help you leave a legacy to those you love most? If someone contests or challenges the will, is there any attorney who can defend it? If the will must be probated, could provisions of it be invalidated?
A licensed Virginia Estate Planning Attorney is a wise investment. He is like the custom craftsman who has met with you, and understands your life, family, and priorities. He analyzes your situation and writes custom wills or trusts that are fully consistent with the details of your life. He writes wills that he would be willing and able to defend in court if necessary. He remains available to you and your family as your needs change, and is ready to provide wise counsel to your loved ones as they settle the estate. He is a resource you can access at every life-stage, he has your information on file and knows how to update your will or trust as your life changes.
Let’s face it; these two products are not the same. An online questionnaire with automated document creation does not even compare to the value of an Estate Planning Attorney who knows you and your family, writing a custom will or trust. The automated documents might be OK for some people, but don’t call them an Estate Plan, because they are truly nothing more than a fill-in-the-blank document. It’s true, I suppose, that doing an automated will is better than having no will at all. But it’s not true that it is a good value for your money. Let’s talk about your estate plan, your budget, and your situation. The phone consultation is free.