Maybe you are like a lot of people and you simply don’t see the point in spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a service which has results you can’t immediately see. For instance, when you hire someone to paint your home, within a few days or weeks, you will be able to see the fresh coat of paint and appreciate the work. But when it comes to estate planning and elder law services, the outcome or result that you are buying may never be seen during your lifetime. In fact, it may be your children or even their children who reap the benefits of your wise early planning.
Maybe you’ve decided that you will pay a lawyer to help with your will or trust, but you have decided you will just pull things like powers of attorney or advanced directives off the Web. After all, they seem to be standardized forms that are pretty much templates anyway. What’s the harm? Sadly, there are a lot of reasons this may not be a good decision. In particular, here are 5 specific reasons you should not rely on a free power of attorney form off of the Internet.
You Need Advice, Not a Form
When people hire a litigation attorney, they generally understand that they are paying money in exchange for the lawyer’s time. Hence the term “billable hours.” But when people hire an elder law attorney to prepare their estate for things like possible nursing home placement, retirement, or death, they often make the mistake of thinking they are simply buying a document. This is the first and perhaps most direct mistake. Note, you are not purchasing a form. You are paying for an attorney to make sure you understand the form, how and when to use it, and what to do in the event of problems. Just like other attorneys, you are paying for advice – not just paperwork.
Many people do not think they are unique. It’s an odd concept, but when it comes to estate plans, a lot of people start their consultation by saying things like, “I’ve got a very simple estate” or “It’s really nothing out of the ordinary.” Whether they mean to lower their cost or they actually believe they are not unique, the fact is that every person’s situation will call for unique handling.
Will it Work with Other Legal Documents You’ve Created
Whoever drafted those store-bought powers of attorney had no idea what other legal instruments you have. They didn’t know if there was an irrevocable trust or some other document that may require a different type of language to be included in the power of attorney in order for the full range of benefits to be realized.
What Happens if it Is Not Accepted?
If an experienced elder law attorney prepares your power of attorney and someone chooses to not accept or rely upon it, you will have a skilled attorney to call and get one-on-one advice. When you buy a form online, you may or may not get this. Even with services that claim to provide advice, they rarely have an attorney in your community who can step in to help.
It May Not Be Up-to-Date
Finally, don’t trust that the forms you buy off the shelf or online will be updated to comply with the most recent changes to state and federal law. California law changes every year. There are always new statutes and regulations being drafted and debated in the state legislature. As an experienced elder law firm, Feldman Law Group remains updated and well-versed on all new changes to the law which may impact our clients. If you need help with an estate plan or any other elder law question, give our Walnut Creek estate planning attorneys today.