Top 3 reasons you should never use LegalZoom or buy legal forms online

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From time to time, a family will visit me in my Marietta office and ask why they should choose me over an online Will drafting company like LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer.  It’s an interesting question that leads me to believe they have a misunderstanding about what these companies do (and don’t do).  So, here are just the Top 3 reasons to never use LegalZoom or buy legal forms for estate planning purposes.

LegalZoom readily admits it has limitations in helping you

The first thing LegalZoom wants you to know is that they are not a law firm.  Here are a few of the more important statements from their disclaimer:

  • They are not a law firm and their employees are not acting as your attorney. (Wouldn’t you want to know if your estate planning documents are legally valid?)
  • Their service is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. (Good to know.  Perhaps you should just start with an attorney in the first place and save time and money).
  • Your communications with them are not protected by the attorney-client privilege. (Don’t you want your personal and private information to be kept, well, private?)
  • The legal information on their site is not guaranteed to be correct. (Which is true as you’ll see below).

Legalzoom has a 1.3 out of 5 rating on ConsumerAffairs

One of the more important factors in determining whether to work with someone is what people who have worked with them have to say.  Consumer Affairs gave LegalZoom a 1.3 rating out of 5 based on 202 ratings submitted by users within the last year alone.

You should only work with someone who has hundreds of positive testimonials from people who have worked with them.  You can see just a few for the Farrell Law Firm from our Marietta estate planning clients by clicking here.

LegalZoom isn’t aware of basic estate planning issues

I recently had an opportunity where a family asked me whether a handwritten Will was valid in Georgia.  This is a good question that often goes misunderstood.  So, I wrote an article about whether a handwritten Will is valid in Georgia and you can access that article by clicking here.  If you’d rather see a video answer to the question, you can access my video by clicking here.

But, because I know many people get this answer wrong, I thought I’d see what LegalZoom had to say about it and they are simply wrong.  From my experience, they are simply confused.  Here it is in LegalZoom’s own writing:

Marietta Estate Planning Attorney

This is simply not true.  I know because I’ve helped several families probate handwritten Wills.  There’s nothing about a Will being written by hand that makes it inherently invalid.  As long as the handwritten Will meets the other requirements for a valid Will in Georgia, a handwritten Will is valid.

LegalZoom is simply confused.

What is a holographic Will?

A holographic Will is a Will that is written entirely in the hand of the Testator, the person making the Will.  That’s it.  It doesn’t meet the other requirements of having a valid Will in Georgia and this is where LegalZoom is confused.  A holographic Will is a type of handwritten Will.  But, as long as the handwritten Will meets the other requirements for having a valid Will in Georgia, it will be valid.

So, if LegalZoom is wrong about this most basic small estate planning issue, what makes it right on the other larger issues you might be facing.

This is why you should consider hiring an estate planning attorney to assist you with your estate planning needs.  I’ve written on how an estate planning attorney can help you avoid costly mistakes and you can access it by clicking here.

Marietta Estate Planning Lawyer

John P. Farrell, Esq.

Mr. Farrell is the author of Estate Planning for the Modern Family: A Georgian’s Guide to Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney.  You can learn about his book here and learn more about John here.  Join the more than 1,000 people who subscribe to his Newsletter here.  Feel free to send John a message here.

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