Why Pay for a Lawyer?
Legal services can be expensive. In estate planning, hiring a lawyer to design and draft an estate plan that includes a Will or a Trust and one or more Powers of Attorney can cost thousands of dollars.
What is it, exactly, that you are paying for? You know it’s possible to create your own Will using online software for a few hundred dollars. This option seems appealing when all you have to do is answer some questions, and the documents will be ready in minutes, while a law firm may take several weeks. Isn’t it just cheaper and faster to do it all yourself?
This is a common line of thinking for many people who want a will or trust, but experience “sticker shock” once they consult with a lawyer. However, most people who think this way don’t realize that what you are actually paying for is the lawyer’s expertise, which can save you time and money in the long run. If you don’t know what you don’t know, how can you be sure that the documents you create will achieve your goals? That’s where a specialized lawyer comes in. Abraham Lincoln once said, “A lawyer’s time and advice are his stock in trade.” Without a lawyer’s expertise, the documents you draft may create more issues for you or your beneficiaries in the future.
Here is one example:
Improperly Drafted General Durable Power of Attorney:
Dan is a widower with one adult son, Kevin. He wanted to create an estate plan, but the law firm he called quoted $2,500, which Dan thought was too expensive. Instead, Dan created his own documents online for $500.
Five years later, Dan is ill, and Kevin wants to move Dan into a facility where he can get the proper care. Unfortunately, the General Durable Power of Attorney Dan created did not give Kevin the authority he needed to sign a lease on Dan’s behalf, nor did it reference the critical New Jersey banking statute so Kevin could access Dan’s bank account to pay the rent.
If Dan still has the cognitive capacity, he can hire a specialized estate and elder law attorney to create the proper documents. But if Dan is incapacitated, Kevin will have to seek a guardianship, which is a lengthy and expensive court process.
In the end, trying to save a few thousand dollars on documents in the short term could cost Dan and Kevin much more overall. Our advice – If you don’t know what you don’t know, lean on the expertise and experience of the right lawyers who have spent hours researching the law and can guide you on achieving your goals.
Want to discuss if RLG is the right fit for you? Contact us today!