Spring is in the air! Sunshine and warm weather tempt us to start those DIY projects,long overdue. Are you a Do It Yourself person or do you call a professional? If you call a professional do you first go online and try to determine what will be involved? Quickly, the million dollar question becomes, “How much will this short-term savings cost me in the long run?”

Websites like Nolo, Law Depot, and Legal Zoon may touch on just about every topic you can imagine. However, it’s critical to know when you’re saving money, and when you’re putting yourself at risk.If you’re a “Do It Yourself” person consider a few thoughts before launching into your next legal project.

Do It Yourself legal websites and software may not be suited for your specific issues in Virginia. A misplaced comma could entangle you, your family,and your estate in a costly legal battle.

They may not take into consideration your individual tax implications, obligations, responsibilities, or long term consequences.Do they clearly assist with how to create a trust within the body of a will? Do they explain how a spouse may force his/her share if excluded from a will?

Those DIY websites and documents may not take into consideration the length of your marriage, monetary or other contributions, tax implications, or obligations for disabled children over the age of 18. Unlike divorce websites and software, attorneys can explain your right to request an Equitable Distribution of assets which, surprisingly, are not always divided equally.

Do the websites and software emphatically warn that a person must be capable of making an informed decision to execute a legal document? Otherwise, that very inexpensive document could be challenged costing more than the nominal fee an attorney would charge for the creation of a personalized document.

There are countless ways an attorney can handle unique or customary requests which fall outside the “box.” An attorney skilled in life planning may help you convey your precise directives.

Powers of attorney and medical directives are tools used to handle specific details of a party’s financial and/or healthcare affairs while alive.  An attorney can offer guidance to ensure that your specific wishes are clearly articulated to avoid legal battles and emotional stress on families.

The Supreme Court of Florida recently emphasized that the aftermath of using a pre-printed form resulted in the” payment of extensive attorney’s fees—the precise results the testator sought to avoid in the first place.” (Aldrich v. Basile, March 2014)

Purchasing online legal documents is different than purchasing personal legal guidance. The value of legal counsel lies in the attorney’s time, experience, and advice shared, not necessarily the end product. This Spring, before you start your DIY legal project, call an experienced attorney at Woods Rogers for personal attention, legal guidance, and security.

Article brought to you by:
Sandra T. Chinn-Gilstrap
Principal
Family Law Practice