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The True Cost of Do-It-Yourself Legal Forms (Pitfalls in Writing your Own Will)

The June edition of the Florida Bar News included an article titled “The case of the not-so-simple will”. The article is about a Florida woman who created a will without legal counsel, using an “E-Z Legal Form”. As you may have guessed from the title of this blog and the article title, things did not go as planned for this woman and her family, as the case ultimately ended up costing her family many times more than what was saved by buying an “E-Z Legal Form” versus hiring an attorney.

Estate planning is about a person’s wishes being followed in the event of incapacity or death and making the disposal of an estate easier and more efficient. The concept has a lot in common with insurance in that people are sometimes slow to see the need for it while they are alive and healthy. Other times, they’re loathe to spend money on an attorney, especially with the prevalence of fillable forms and websites offering wills, powers of attorney and other estate planning vehicles.

When you fill out a legal form, you get no feedback from an attorney who will advise you on the particulars of your situation. All you get is a generic form not fitted to your particular desires. Further, you likely will have no idea of what items were omitted from the form. This was a major problem with the will at issue in the above case that ended up forcing the decedent’s brother and nieces to fight over who got what under the “E0Z Legal Form” will. The will at issue here include an improperly executed addendum and also did not include a residuary clause. These two shortcomings caused fueled expensive litigation that would have easily been avoided with the assistance of an attorney.

When you plan your estate with an attorney, you can take comfort in knowing how your estate will be handled after your passing and ultimately save money over using a legal form that appears to be less expensive.



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