More Clients Using Online Wills
Most probate lawyers will tell you that a self-drafted will is a disaster waiting to happen. But members of the public apparently aren't buying that advice -- at least, according to the statistics and personal stories described in this New York Times story, A Need for A Will? There's An Online Way. According to the article:
Between 2005 and 2006, downloads of Quicken WillMaker Plus increased nearly 33 percent, according to Nolo, the publisher. LegalZoom says sales of its estate planning documents are up 73 percent this year from last. And We the People, a storefront franchise that helps people fill out legal forms, has grown to 110 locations in 23 states from 25 locations in 2000, according to the company.
Many of those clients interviewed for the article turned to self-help after finding that lawyers weren't offering low-cost options. John Chuang prepared a will for $70 using Legal Zoom and said that he doesn't foresee using "overpaid" lawyers for any service except a lawsuit. Another mom just wanted a basic package, but found that lawyers were charging $350 for an initial consultation. She and her husband turned to Suze Orman's Will and Trust Kit, for $17.99. By contrast, Alan Rothschild, an estate-planning lawyer, said that lawyer-prepared wills can cost $800 to $1,000, with prices varying depending upon location and complexity of estates.
Perhaps like tax returns (which many taxpayers now prepare themselves with software), simple will documents will also become a self-help proposition. So what's a probate lawyer to do? Try to market a simple will package that's affordable to middle-income clients? Or focus their practice on high-end, complex trusts for high-value estates?
Posted by Carolyn Elefant on October 15, 2007 at 05:23 PM | Permalink
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